Quinton Coples: Pass-Rushing Phenom or Bust Candidate?

Anthony CorrenteContributor IMay 17, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 26:  Quinton Coples of North Carolina holds up a jersey as he stands on stage with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after he was selected #16 overall by the New York Jets in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 26, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Chris Chambers/Getty Images)
Chris Chambers/Getty Images

With the 16th overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, the New York Jets selected North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples and it's become increasingly evident that some people love the pick, while some others categorize it as entirely too risky.

Leading up to the draft, Coples was widely viewed as one of, if not the, top pass-rushing prospect.  Many of the so-called draft experts found it laughable that Coples would fall out of the top ten selections.  Sure, Coples had question marks just like many other draft prospects, but his ability was thought to outweigh them by a large margin. 

Since then, some of those question marks have come back into focus. 

The main thing many critics held him accountable for was his drop in performance from his junior season to his senior season.  After notching 10 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss as a junior, those numbers dipped slightly to 7.5 sacks and 15 tackles for loss as a senior.

Not only are those numbers respectable, but it would seem that the New York Jets got incredible value with the 16th selection in the NFL Draft.

Coples will impact the Jets ability to rush the passer immediately.  It has been well documented that Rex Ryan has said Coples will be expected to start, although to what capacity remains to be seen.

The key to the value that Coples possesses for the Jets lies in his versatility. 

He can line up as a traditional pass-rushing defensive end in their four man fronts, as well as a defensive end in their base 3-4 alignments.  He can also kick back inside to defensive tackle in four man fronts, which he proved at North Carolina. 

To top it all off, after completing the recent rookie camp, Rex Ryan gushed about Coples' athleticism and said the team could even stand him up at a rush linebacker position if they desired.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder when it comes to the NFL Draft.  Ultimately, every prospect could be deemed a "boom or bust" prospect.

You can choose to view Coples as an unmotivated player with a questionable motor who saw a drop in production in his senior season. 

You can also choose to view him as a supreme athletic talent who saw position and coaching changes in his senior season, but still possesses the upside and versatility to thrive in the defensive scheme Rex Ryan and the Jets use. 

I'll choose the latter.