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By Jonathan Bales

Dallas Cowboys Potential 2012 Draft Pick: Quinton Coples, DE, UNC

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Jonathan Bales

Two of the three prospects I have analyzed thus far in 2012 have been potential rush linebackers for Dallas, and I am continuing the defensive trend today with UNC’s Quinton Coples.  A lot of DCTers have talked about their interest in Coples, but the problem is he may be a poor fit in a 3-4 defense.

The players I have assessed prior, Alabama’s Courtney Upshaw and South Carolina’s Melvin Ingram, have no question marks surrounding their position in a 3-4–they would be outside linebackers.  Upshaw is a consensus top 15 pick, but I see a borderline second-round talent when I watch him.  Chances are the true experts are accurate and I am missing something in his game, but I won’t change my report on him because others see an elite player.

I actually much prefer Ingram, whose strengths and potential outweigh his weaknesses.  He has great burst and tremendous athleticism, but he may be a bit of a project for Dallas.  The same might be true for Coples, although to a lesser degree.  At 285 pounds, though, Coples is too heavy at his current weight to play as a rush linebacker, but perhaps too light to play the five-technique.  I like the idea of moving him to end, giving the ‘Boys a pass-rushing presence on their defensive line to complement Jay Ratliff and finally take pressure off of DeMarcus Ware, but it is a gamble.  With first-round picks, you want to minimize risk.

Does Coples’ skill set limit him to playing end in a 4-3? Let’s examine. . .

Scouting Report

Quinton Coples played primarily defensive tackle at UNC, although some of his snaps also came as a defensive end.  He played mainly a seven-technique position when lining up at end, only kicking in a bit in rare situations.  Thus, his transition to 3-4 defensive end would be a relatively new one for him.

A lot of people have compared Coples to Julius Peppers, and I think those comparisons are silly.  Coples is a totally different player who is nowhere near as athletic as Peppers.  He doesn’t have the same pass-rush repertoire by any means.  Actually, he really uses just a bull rush and, on rare occasions, a swim move.

Coples’ bull rush is outstanding, as strength is the name of his game.  Check out the 5:16 mark below where he uses total power to blow the offensive tackle backwards to get the sack and force a fumble.  On the very next play, you can see Coples use his strength to hold off and shed a blocker before making the tackle.

I have some questions about how effective Coples will be as a pass-rusher if he cannot overpower people in the NFL.  He’s strong enough that he might get away with it at times, but you cannot consistently garner pressure using only a bull rush.

So, is Coples suited only for a 4-3? It is difficult to tell.  He has great size and length, and he gets off of the ball really well.  Coples plays with great pad level, and he will be really effective as a run defender in either scheme.  He will be considered to be light for a 3-4 end, but he’s strong enough to hold up in the five-technique.  I’m not sure how much consideration 3-4 teams are giving Coples, but I think he has some versatility.

Projection

Coples is likely going to go in or near the top 10.  If he falls to Dallas, they will have a difficult decision to make.  They certainly could use a dominant defensive end.  Those who argue that 3-4 ends don’t make enough impact to be taken so highly don’t understand the nature of the position.  A great five-technique player can and will take pressure off of Ware, aiding the outside linebacker opposite him to garner some single-teams.  There are players I would rather have at pick No. 14, but I wouldn’t be miserable if Coples was the guy.

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8 Responses to Dallas Cowboys Potential 2012 Draft Pick: Quinton Coples, DE, UNC

  1. john coleman says:

    If Ratliff can play NT at 285, Coples can surely play DE at 285. Coples does look like he would be overmatched inside at 285. He does look explosive off the ball and I think he would be fine at DE in a 3-4.

    As far as taking risk- I think all of the guys you have looked at so far fall into the risk category, with no certain position. DeCastro would be the only exception to that and his competition level scares me. If he had played in the SEC and looked good then OK.

  2. Mont Seventeen says:

    I have no problem with ACC defenders, especially a Butch Davis player… With the success JJ Watt had last season, a guy like Coples will get looks from 3-4 teams wishing to copy Wades attack.

    Coples numbers fell off last season due to some motivational issues, something Jerrys Teams have always had problems absorbing.

    I would like to see a player like Coples play the 5, in between Rat and Ware, forcing teams to all but abandon playaction on first down without a pure run threat, in fear of getting their QB knocked out!

    Coples will fall to Jerrys Team only bc most teams have confidence they can find his talent in later rounds, like Baltimore did with McPhee last season. Unfortunately, Jerry has never shown that ability, his Top 2 picks are the only reasonable options for fans…

    So Jerry will probably have to decide on Coples and with his fondness of UNC defenders on draft day, I could see Jerry trying to mimic the JJ Watt pick.

    Coples would be horrible pick chemistry wise but very intriguing philosophy wise.

  3. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    Poor fit for the Boys.

    Now, if he was acquired, then he would probably be a solid player and possibly could thrive in a 3-4.

    The real question is – if Dallas went after this guy (traded up to get him which will probably be necessary), are they looking to change predominant schemes to a 4-3 or 4-2-5. Unless this is the case, the Boys would be wasting a 1st round pick; the opportunity to acquire someone who’s just as good at their position but is a bigger need and better fit is a certainty at 14.

  4. Brandon says:

    If the Cowboys had any sense they would’ve moved ratliff to end 3 years ago and found a space-eating nose tackle.

  5. john coleman says:

    TJ-No way would I trade up to get him. In fact, I would’nt go up to get anybody in this years draft. At least not over a spot or two and only then with a trade or something next year. Maybe a late rd pick, but that isn’t feasible.

  6. Vince_Grey says:

    I wouldn’t trade up much either, but I do like this guy a lot and he’s big enough to play DE in a 3-4 or a 4-3. Right now, he’s at the top of my wish list for Dallas.

  7. Mont Seventeen says:

    This is where I differ… I think trading up to get Kalil or RG3 is the only play. Talent from 8 to 40 appear to be comparable but Kalil and RG3 are once in a lifetime draft choices.

    To trade up for those players makes perfect sense, in kalils case, if you like what Tron did last year, its only obvious that Kalil will be just as impressive. This pick will allow Tron and Doug Free to excel at their positions and proving depth to a position of empirical importance. Besides we all know Doug Free at RT is wishful thinking at best and is not a legitimate plan for a playoff contender.

    The RG3 pick will come mainly to satisfy Jerry’s slash syndrome, since he really has made one of his calling card moves since the Roy debacle. But practically, RG3 makes sense on many levels, not the least of which, having a young backup that will develop into a starter (only the 2cd in the Jerry era). Other factors that make trading up for RG3 a calculated gamble (out side of the value of moving 14 to 2 with the 14 pick being equivalent to the 35th selection) when considering the Cowboys War Room capabilities when evaluating equal talent. Romo’s age, his injury history and the proven fact this organization is unable to get him enough talent to reach the playoffs on a consistent basis.

    LT and QB are premium positions and to acquire Blue Chippers at those positions are rare as well as teams willing to trade from those selections. But if the Rams are willing to deal, I think this move would make sense for several reasons but the number 1 is the QB play of the NFC and the elite pass rushers in the NFC East.

  8. Vince_Grey says:

    Mont – Uh, wow. No offense, but you are wrong in so many ways I don’t know where to start, but I’ll give it a shot:

    - Trading up that high would pretty much cost us our premium picks for this year, next year, and likely the year after that. We’re talking 3 1sts plus some other picks… at least. I don’t see ANY OL worth that, no matter if here’s a 10 time All Pro.

    - RG3 MIGHT be worth that, IF we were a bottom-feeding 2-14/3-13 team that desperately needed a QB. But we’re not either of those, not even close. We have a very QB who can be excellent when given some time and a decent running game. Spending that amount of picks for a guy to sit behind Romo for 2-4 years is insane.

    - That many picks would basically kill the rest of the team for 3 years as so far as replenishing talent, and our defense is poor RIGHT NOW except at 3 or 4 spots.

    - I’ll say this again: THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A CAN’T MISS DRAFT CHOICE. The very same things, and then some, being said about Kalil, Luck, and RG3 where being said about Tony Mandarich, Robert Gallery, Ryan Leaf, and Jeff George. Your talking about blowing up 2-3 years of the draft for one player who’s either an OT or a QB who MIGHT start 3 years from now and both of which might be total busts.

    You need to use some logic here and think this through my friend.

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