Draft Talk: The Polarizing Quinton Coples


The one prospect that I have not spent some time talking about is UNC defensive lineman, Quinton Coples. Coples is a guy that I am having a difficult time evaluating and I honestly don't know if I like him that much. I hate spending time writing about prospects I don't like, in my eyes it is a waste of time. But when I look at Coples, I see one amazing physical specimen with great athletic ability.

After his junior season, people were talking about Coples being a top five pick. After a down senior season, Coples is not being heralded like he was this time last year. It's amazing to me how opinions can change on a player after just one year.

In my draft journey the past two years, no prospect has stumped me as much as UNC's Quinton Coples has. I have had a really difficult time getting a grasp of who Quinton Coples is. Who exactly is Quinton Coples? Is he a dominant five technique 3-4 defensive end? Is he a rush 3-4 outside linebacker? Is he just a 4-3 defensive end?

I am having a difficult time plugging him into one position and to be honest with you, Coples has the athletic ability to play any of those positions. He is that talented where he can play anywhere in the NFL. But I am trying to pin down where he would play for the Cowboys, which we will get into later.

Coples also has me questioning his character, motor and mentality. When compared to the other big time pass rushing prospects in this draft, Coples is the one who has more question marks. I have no questions about Melvin Ingram and Courtney Upshaw as far as character, motor and mentality go. When I look at Coples, I just have big time questions about him.

When you are picking a player that high in the first round (14th overall), you better be sure you get a great player. You don't want to leave round one with a player with big time question marks. This is my line of thinking when picking in the first round, especially in the top 15.

I want a great player, I want a player who will give me big time contribution and a playmaker. When I am spending big time money on a player that I select this high, I want production in return.

Maybe that is setting the bar too high, I understand that. But teams do place a high emphasis on their first round picks, they want these players to be great. If the Cowboys enter the first round every year believing that they just want a solid player in the first round, than they are not entering the draft with the right type of mindset.

You must enter the first round with the belief of landing a great player. This is a top 15 pick, not the end of the first round. Demand greatness and draft a great talent, if you have that type of mindset , you might end up with a great player.

This is why I see Anthony Spencer and Felix Jones as busts. Both were first round draft picks that never lived up to their expectations. You can do better than 6 sacks a year. You can do better than under 1,000 yards and a couple of touchdowns.

I will say that I love Felix Jones and his skill set. Felix may never live up to my lofty expectations, but I do value him on this team because of his playmaking ability. It's not Felix's fault where he was drafted, but at some point I would love to see him step up and be that guy.

With the 14th pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, Quinton Coples is another target for the Cowboys.

Quinton Coples


One thing that cannot be taught is size. Coples is a physical freak with a long, lean muscular frame. During the Senior Bowl, Coples weighed in at just under 6'6 at 6'5 3/4 and 281 pounds. That is dominating size and due to his size, Coples can play a variety of positions on the defensive line.

Coples has the size to play as a dominant 4-3 defensive end, so a lot of 4-3 teams will be highly interested in him. Coples reminds many of us of former UNC great, Julius Peppers. There is also the Mario Williams comparisons and they are valid. Coples has the same body type and size compared to both of those NFL greats.

Also keep in mind, I doubt we are moving back to a 4-3 defense this year. But if we did down the road, we would have a clear centerpiece to build a 4-3 defense around with Coples.

What Coples also possesses is long arms and a huge wingspan. If you have read my pass rushing articles the past year, you will know how I crave the pass rushers with long arms. Jason Pierre Paul and Aldon Smith are the two prospects I mention all the time when describing this type of pass rusher. Coples has 33 inch arms and a 80 inch wingspan. Those are some massive arms and Coples can use them to his advantage. Really good pass rushers begin to use their hands and wingspan to their advantage because it will give offensive lineman fits when under pressure.

With tremendous size, Coples is also getting looks as a 3-4 five tech defensive end. It's difficult when trying to predict where Coples will go in the draft because each defense (4-3, 3-4) will be heavily interested in Coples. Coples would be a dominant 3-4 defensive end if he ended up in Dallas. Having Coples at defensive end will open up plays for the linebackers behind him.

Coples has the size and strength to be a force in the run game. He has the size to anchor and hold up against taking on multiple blockers. Coples can be very dominant and physical if he is all there, which is an issue we will touch on later. So Coples offers you the defense against the run, which your five techs need to do.

But where Coples is really intriguing is as a pass rusher. In the 3-4, you need disruptive ends who can generate some pressure. The problem is, we only have one defensive end who can do this on a regular basis and that is Jason Hatcher. Adding a disruptive force like Coples would just totally benefit this entire defense. Coples can rush the passer with his top notch speed. He can use his strength to generate a bull rush and get into the backfield. His combination of size, strength and speed is what truly makes Coples so interesting. His explosion off the line is one of the best I have seen and he can use his speed to get after the quarterback.

I would envision Quinton Coples as a 8-10 sacks a year type of player and that is just as a 3-4 defensive end. If Coples could really put up those type of numbers, man that would be such an upgrade over what we have now at defensive end. Coples is truly a physical force with the skill set to be a really good player in the NFL.

There is also the possibility that Coples could stand up and play as a 3-4 outside linebacker. This is definitely a possibility, but in my opinion I think Coples may be best off as a defensive end. I do not want to ruin this kid by switching him to another position this early into his career. If we drafted Coples, I want him as a five tech defensive end. Let him use his god given physical talent to his advantage before we even think about moving him to outside linebacker. I do not want to overload him early on his career, because that could lead to a big time bust and just blow up in our face.

Leave the kid at defensive end and let him ball out of control there. If you want to stand him up later in his career, that's fine. But if we drafted Coples at 14, I want to see him as a disruptive five tech because I think he would offer us the most production being there.

Let's take a look at his college production


  • 2011- 55 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 15 tackles for loss, 1 forced fumble
  • 2010- 59 tackles, 10 sacks, 15.5 tackles for loss, 1 forced fumble
  • 2009- 22 tackles, 5.0 sacks, 6.5 tackles for loss
  • 2008- 8 tackles, 1 sack, 3.5 tackles for loss


  • 2011- First Team All-ACC, Preseason All American, Lombardi Award Candidate, Hendricks Award Candidate
  • 2010- First Team All-ACC, Second Team All-American

It's crazy to say a guy had a down year when he had 7.5 sacks and 15 tackles for loss, but Coples did not live up to his big time expectations in his senior season. There are many questions about Coples and his motivation. At times it looks like he quits on plays and just flat out gives up. The character concerns are there and his motor should be much better than what it is.

But Coples was a freak in his junior season. He dominated everyone he faced and racked up 10 sacks. So why the down season in 2011? Some place it on his position change from defensive end to defensive tackle. Some say it's because he didn't want to get hurt and therefore see his draft stock slip. I have watched Coples the last two years and you could tell he wasn't going as hard as he should have been this year.

I watched him quit on plays, especially in his bowl game. Then I watched Coples all week during the Senior Bowl and he flat out dominated every offensive lineman he faced. When the money was on the line, Coples performed at a high level. Now if this kid can just put all the BS behind him when he goes to the NFL, I will have no problem drafting him. If Coples takes the NFL coaching and keeps his motivation up, he will be a dominant NFL player.

The only questions I have about Quinton Coples is his character and motivation. All the physical ability is there and his skill set is top notch stuff. When he goes to the combine later this month, I expect to see him blow it up. In my opinion, Coples is a better prospect than fellow Tarheel, Robert Quinn. Coples is a top ten talent physically, but the character concerns could make him drop to us at 14.

If he falls to us at 14, I will be curious to see if the Cowboys draft him. How high will Coples be on their board? I would LOVE to see the 2012 Dallas Cowboys draft board, I would absolutely have a field day going over that board. If the Cowboys interview Coples, do their homework and like what they hear, then we might see another Tarheel in the Cowboys uniform.

We got an insane value with Bruce Carter last year, maybe we get lucky once again and Quinton Coples falls to us at 14. We need dominant pass rushers and Coples is exactly that. I just love those lean, athletic and muscular pass rushers with long arms. Quinton Coples is growing on me as the draft process plays out and if he passes the interview process, I will definitely be on board with drafting him.

I want a JPP, I want a Aldon Smith, but I would settle for Quinton Coples.

Quinton Coples NFL Draft Analysis - 2010 Season (via TMBDraft)

Quinton Coples vs Missouri (via JmpasqDraftjedi)

Quinton Coples at Defensive Tackle (via MetaDraft)

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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