Many scouts consider North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples a top-pick talent. ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay said, "The talent is top five," when asked about Coples on The Kevin Calabro Show last week.
McShay went on to say, "I mean, it's hard to really debate that when you look at his size, his quickness, his ability to turn speed to power as a pass-rusher, his ability to seal off the edge and really defend the running game with some power, size and strength, he can do it all."
Yet Coples continues to fall out of the top five and possibly out of the top 10. What's scaring teams away from him?
Back in 2010, Coples had his most consistent season and really came on late that year. He showed a relentless motor, sense of urgency and desire to make plays. Last season, the effort just was not there all the time. He seemed to take plays off and often times looked like he didn't even want to be on the football field. Not something you want to see from a senior leader looking to be drafted high. What might be more frustrating was his performance in the Senior Bowl.
During the practice week at the Senior Bowl, Coples impressed the masses once again. Then he did it during the actual game. The speed, power, energy and effort from 2010 was back. He looked like a top five pick again. This is frustrating to scouts and teams trying to figure out if he is worth the large investment that comes with a top five pick.
Vernon Gholston was drafted sixth overall by the New York Jets in 2008. His talent was through the roof, and he had the potential to be one of the NFL's brightest pass-rushers. Gholston is not in the league anymore and never did record a sack at the NFL level. Derrick Harvey was drafted eighth overall that same year by the Jacksonville Jaguars. He was released from Jacksonville after only recording eight sacks. He spent last season in Denver where he had four tackles and no sacks. Harvey was given $17.175 million guaranteed, and Gholston was given $21 million guaranteed.
The recent efforts of Gholston, Harvey and even Albert Haynesworth have caused teams to be more cautious when selecting defensive linemen at the top of the draft. Even Jason Pierre-Paul slid a little last year due to effort concerns as well. He proved everybody wrong and had a great year for the Super Bowl champion New York Giants. Coples is going to have to prove his doubters wrong at the scouting combine and interview sessions to secure a top 10 slot.
It is still very possible Coples can go to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the fifth pick. He might even find a home anywhere between the sixth through ninth picks. However, he is also battling with Melvin Ingram and Courtney Upshaw right now as their stocks are going up. One thing is a given, this top-five talent has the ability to get back on track and do well in the NFL.