Florham Park – With the beginning of the draft playing out in an insane fashion with pick after pick being traded the Jets fielded multiple calls and considered every option, but when it came time for them to pick they choose to select the highest rated player on their board, Quinton Coples, defensive end from North Carolina.
“We are excited to get Quinton with the 16th pick. We did field some calls, but we just really felt good about the value of getting Quinton.” Mike Tannenbaum said. “He’s going to play on the defensive line, along with Sione, Mike DeVito and Wilkerson. I think it’ll be fun to watch Rex and coach Pettine and see how they use him.”
The first 15 picks couldn’t have played out any better for the Jets, as West Virginia’s Bruce Irvin was the only pass rusher off the board, giving the Jets their choice of any pass rusher they wanted. There’s no way the Jets considered Irvin as he was immediately dubbed the reach of the draft, of course many Coples detractors quickly chimed in saying Coples was the second biggest reach of the night. For months we had been hearing about how Rex Ryan was in love with South Carolina’s Melvin Ingram and most people assumed he was the best fit, with Ingram still on board Jets fans were chanting his name right until they heard Coples name called instead.
Coples isn’t the outside linebacker everyone assumed the Jets would target. Ryan confirmed he will play with his hand in the dirt on the line and won’t be stood up, even though Ryan is convinced he could if they asked him to.
“Quinton’s a guy, he’s probably athletic enough to stand up and play linebacker, but that’s not what we brought him here to do.” Ryan said, “He’s going to have his hand in the dirt and he reminds me of a similar type of player as Shaun Ellis, Trevor Pryce type. Very athletic for an inside pass rusher, 3-4 guy and I really think that’s a fair comparison.”
The knock on Coples comes from people questioning his effort after he turned in a disappointing senior year and many scouts thought he mailed it in. The Jets have no such concerns and attribute his senior year troubles to everything that was collapsing around him at North Carolina.
“At one point it was a unique set of circumstances. At one point, in a two season period, Quinton had four different position coaches.” Tannenbaum said, “With that said he still had very good productivity, 24 career sacks, and we’re excited to get him.
“He was a teammate of Mo Wilkerson at Hargrave (Military Academy) and the reason that’s very important to me was, this is a guy that was in the same locker room as him and anytime we have those situations I always ask these guys, you know Kyle Wilson there’s been a ton of guys to come through Boise State, that it’s critical to me, do you want to work with this guy day in and day out? And Mo was unbelievable, he said, ‘he’s a great teammate and he’s a better player than me.”
Naturally a player with questionable effort would draw comparisons to the notorious Vernon Gholston but, Ryan said he thought any comparisons to Gholston were unwarranted, because with Gholston he had to adjust to playing a new position and they have no intention of doing that with Coples. Coples will play where he was meant to play and while it’s not at outside linebacker Ryan thinks the combination of him and Wilkerson will open up things for everyone else, most notably Aaron Maybin.
“It is a lot harder to rush the passer from a 3-4 defensive end, Muhammed (Wilkerson) only had three sacks. If your looking at that, but some guys cause production and I think Quinton and Muhammed cause production, they’re those types of guys, but they can get production themselves… We look at it, we were at our best with a guy like Shaun Ellis moving inside, we picked up Trevor Pryce and he did a good job, only had one sack, but how much production did he cause?”
Asked to talk about the decision to select Coples, Joey Clinkscales said, “First of all, Quinton was a great pass rusher. He’s long, he’s tall, he’s got length, he’s very athletic and from a stand point of grades he was the highest rated player on the board at that point.”
Coples joined the media on a conference call shortly after being drafted and told reporters he had already begun preparing himself to play in the Jets defense. He expects to play the five-technique and be a jumper, sometimes dropping back into coverage. In response to a question about his work ethic Coples said he’s, “Working hard to improve and be the best athlete possible for the Jets.”
“I didn’t know the Jets would take me even though Rex promised me he would last week.” Coples said before saying, “The Jets were the only team that was straight up with me.” Ryan may have waited until last week to make that promise, but Coples said he knew Ryan feel in love with him at his pro day.”
“It’s funny I forget who was with me, but I think I said ‘I just made this guy a lot of money.'” Ryan said when talking about the positional drills Ryan personally put Coples through. “Because when we were going through the drills, he could catch the football, he could run. There’s no saying he couldn’t play outside linebacker because he looked that athletic. He was really impressive in those drills and I couldn’t get him tired.”
There will be a lot of people who question this move in the following days, but none of those people are in the Jets front office. Coples is a freakish talent (HT: 6’5 3/4″, WT: 284) who has drawn comparisons to Julius Peppers and Richard Seymour. If he plays anywhere near the level of those two players, people won’t be questioning this selection for long.
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