Some have questioned his consistency, but Coples still has been able to produce at a high level, posting more than 17 sacks the past two years (heading into the team's 2011 bowl game).
He has, at times, looked to play on cruise control, but it will be tough for many NFL front offices to ignore the natural ability that Coples possesses and the physical presence he brings to any defense. He can play defensive end in both 4-3 and 3-4 schemes, and should be selected in the early part of the first round.
While he doesn't have an array of pass-rush moves to beat NFL left tackles, his pure power allows him to be disruptive and productive at the position. Quinton plays the run very well for a tall, athletic pass rusher, and has been productive defending the run both inside and out.
He is strong and has body control through double teams that allows him to stay up and continue to make plays towards the ball. His footwork is slightly above average for his size, but he overcomes this through a natural ability and understanding how to leverage the point to overcome a would-be blocker.
This will make him attractive to teams who run a 3-4 scheme, where they can mesh Coples on the line to both rush the passer and be a stout run defender. He has undisputed first-round athletic ability for his size, which is the lifeline of his game.
While he is a great interior player, Coples doesn't see much action outside the box and his lateral movement can be an Achilles heel for him when running down plays.
There are also question marks surrounding his ability to use his hands, and his ability to ignite his feet and hips to make quick-twitch plays. He can seem as if he's moving in slow motion at times."
A natural defensive end, Coples moved inside to aid the Tar Heels and in doing so emerged as arguably the elite senior prospect in the country. The ascension was sudden. Coples entered his junior campaign having only been a rotational defensive end during his freshman and sophomore campaigns.
During those two seasons he appeared in 25 games but accumulated only 30 total tackles. Evidence of his big play potential, however, was everywhere. Of his 30 tackles, 10 came behind the scrimmage, including 6.5 sacks.
Still, no one could have predicted that Coples would explode in 2011 for 59 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss and a team-leading 10 sacks, earning First Team All-ACC accolades from the media and coaches.
Though he played inside for much of the season, there were games in which he moved back outside, including much of North Carolina's Music City Bowl win over Tennessee. His domination in that contest (six tackles, two QB hurries, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble) provided ample evidence that he can move back outside when needed.
This, however, came while playing left defensive end (against the right tackle). Whether he has the explosiveness to make the move to the right side (attacking most quarterback's blind side) could be what determines if Coples ultimately is viewed among the elite prospects in the draft.
Considering his success inside last season, it might seem odd to move Coples back to defensive end. However, at defensive end, Coples' height, long arms and burst off the snap should make him all the more indefensible.
It seems that every talented defensive lineman that comes from North Carolina is compared to former Tar Heel great Julius Peppers. While Coples may come up just short lack in terms of the elite athleticism that Peppers demonstrated on the gridiron and as a reserve forward for the Tar Heels basketball team, Coples appears capable of challenging Peppers' draft grade. That's quite the statement, considering that Peppers was the second overall pick in 2002.
Pass Rush: Good burst off the snap, though it remains to be seen if he has the speed and flexibility to dip and rip around the edge as a traditional RDE. Powerful. Has an excellent bull rush and uses his long arms to keep offensive linemen away from his body so he is able to dictate the action.
Doesn't possess elite lateral agility or closing speed, but gains ground quickly because of his length. Is a strong drag-down tackler capable of pulling down the quarterback while still engaged with a blocker.
Uses his hands well. Features a strong rip move, as well as a swim. Good anticipation of the cut block, showing the quick hands, feet and balance to "sprawl." Alert defender who will get his hands up to cloud passing lanes.
Run Defense: Lacks the bulk teams are looking for as a defensive tackle. Comes off the snap a little high, but uses his excellent strength to quickly stand up his opponent. Good hand placement and upper body strength to stack and shed the block. Good swim move inside to defend against the double-team and slip through the crack.
Has enough lateral agility and such length as to make it difficult for running backs to elude him at the line of scrimmage. Even when he isn't credited with the stop, his presence in the backfield often forces backs to pause and look elsewhere, resulting in some easy tackle opportunities for teammates.
Good lateral agility and balance to "play the keys" and pursue laterally, avoiding the trash.
Explosion: Explosive strength to rock the offensive lineman back onto his heels. Can generate some ferocious hits when he gets some momentum.
Strength: Among his best assets. Can simply bull rush most opponents and drive them back into the pocket. Struggles a bit with leverage when playing defensive tackle and can get pushed off the ball early in the play, but ultimately gains his freedom due to his strength.
Tackling: Good drag down tackler, who can latch on to ball-carriers with just one arm and slow them enough for teammates to clean up the trash. Long arms allow him to "catch" opponents and rassle them to the ground. Lowers his head too often when making contact, which could result in some helmet-to-helmet penalties or a potential injury.
Good effort in lateral pursuit. Will leave his feet when forced to do so and lunge at the ball-carrier, showing the explosiveness to knock his opponent down without wrapping up. Typically does a nice job of wrapping up, however. Few ball-carriers are able to escape his grasp due to his long arms and strength.
Intangibles: Investigated by the NCAA for attending draft-day parties with former teammates Marvin Austin and Robert Quinn, but was ultimately cleared of any wrong-doing. Has a dual major of African-American studies and Communications and is on pace to graduate. Has added 30 pounds since signing with North Carolina."
Has a tendency to get upright through contact at times, which will cause him to get washed out of plays sometimes. However, he possesses natural flexibility sitting into his stance and has good snap awareness, a great first step and solid consistency extending his arms and gaining leverage.
Has the natural power to anchor inside one-on-one and is a bear to block through the play because of his length. He needs to do a better job disengaging quicker, at times is slow to react to the inside run, but certainly has the skill set to do so. Is a strong anchor player on the edge vs. the run game.
He possesses the first step to threaten the C-gap, using a powerful club move in order to gain separation and keep his pad level down through contact. Is a powerful puncher and possesses the upper body strength to simply jolt offensive lineman through contact when he wants to shed.
Plays the game with bad intentions in pursuit, his motor is a bit inconsistent, but he likes contact and works hard to chase the football and create collisions.
Possesses the skill set to simply not allow himself to be blocked for long, but he's still putting things together as a pass rusher. He has the talent to be dominant though, possessing a great first step both inside and out.
Coils up well into his stance, rushes from a four-point stance, but rushes with his ball side foot back, allowing him to quickly eat up space and get toward the edge. He possesses the power in his punch to routinely jolt defenders and moves effortlessly laterally when trying to side step blocks and get up the field.
Exhibits the burst to threaten the edge and does a decent job for his size dropping his pad level when trying to turn the corner. However he still gets a bit upright through contact, which takes away from his initial burst when closing.
He doesn't quite know how to use his hands well enough in order to disengage initially, and is more just a puncher who has the length to create space and will side step. He needs to add more of a pass rushing arsenal to his game and certainly has the talent to do so.
Can threaten gaps inside as a three technique as well, keeping his base down initially, and again works hard into contact in order to keep himself clean.
Was investigated by the NCAA about his attendance at a post draft party. Displayed some motor/passion problems as a senior, looked to be trying not to get hurt at times and wasn't always invested in the game.
Impression: Can be as good as he wants to be in the NFL. The game comes very easy to him and he can be dominant if he learns to use his arms even better to slip blocks in the pass game, but with more time I expect that to improve. The sky is the limit as long as he's willing to work at his trade and keep his motor running."
Has long arms to gain extension and strong hands to jolt, stack and shed.
Is disruptively quick to play in gaps and make plays behind the line and possesses intriguing athletic ability, movement skills and balance — light on his feet and closes in a hurry.
However, he is unrefined, with inconsistent leverage, power, hand use and motor.
Has a high ceiling given his outstanding combination of size, length and athletic ability which could enable him to excel as a 4-3 left end, 3-4 five-technique or inside nickel rusher if he overcomes an inflated self-opinion and continues to mature."
I don't see Coples as a speed rusher and he may end up being pegged as a 5 technique. He has plenty of time to develop a better speed rush but based on his 2010 film he lacks great edge speed. This doesn't mean he is not a good pass rusher as he is able to use his hands to disengage and counter. He gets a real good push on the pocket and is able to slip past double teams. In the running game, Coples needs to work on holding the line better. However, he is decent holding at the point and has the frame to add more bulk and strength.
Overall, Coples looks to be a good prospect but the 2011 season will be key to his draft position. I have a few questions about what position he will fit and this year should help answer those questions.
Bold Statement: Coples will be considered the top 5 technique option in the 2012 NFL Draft
Games Viewed: Virginia Tech ('10), Tennessee ('10), Florida St. ('10), NC State ('10)
- Coples is a versatile lineman with the ability to play defensive tackle and end
- His hand usage is the strongest part of his game and what allows him to be successful
- He does a nice job getting his hands inside and arms extended allow him to keep defenders off his body
- His height and arm extension give him a good view of the backfield and the ability to locate the football
- Off the ball, Coples explodes into the defender delivering a nice jolt and creating space
- Coples is a stack and shed player not a shoot the gap or speed rusher
- He has a strong leg drive and good motor which helps with his pursuit to the football and pass rush
- Coples is able to disengage from the offensive but does so because of this hand usage and not suddenness
- Once he disengages, Coples has a great closing burst
- Coples has more bulk than his 6'6 245lbs numbers would imply
- He doesn't appear to be really explosive off the ball and lacks an elite 1st step
- Coples doesn't have a good speed rush
- He plays with a high pad level"
Still could get stronger, though, and is a sometimes inconsistent run defender as he tends to come off the snap too high at times; will move back outside to a more normal DE slot this fall where he has the physical tools to be a dynamic pass rusher; has a quick first step and uses arms well to fend off blockers;
Also has good balance and change of direction; not a burner with a projected 40 clocking in the 4.80 range, but is a long strider who covers a lot of ground closing on the pocket; as a DE could consider dropping 10-15 pounds to possibly cut a tenth or so off his 40 time. ;
Generally considered a character player who works hard and doesn’t take plays off, but did get some off-season looks from NCAA investigators after he attended a post-draft party, although he was ultimately cleared of any improper conduct."
Good initial burst off the snap, but creates space with his hand usage and not with speed or by shooting gaps at defensive end, will line up extremely wide and take quickest angles to quarterback... Can push and pressure the pocket and take on double teams, which he sees on nearly every snap...
Decent bull rush, though club and rip are his best pass rush moves... Good balance, seldom off his feet, good flexibility and body control, moves well laterally to avoid blocks and get up the field... Long strider and covers a lot of ground with good closing speed to the quarterback or ball carrier...
Does a fairly good job in run support, has the strength to anchor and hold the point, very good at establishing initial positioning and shedding blocks... Does a nice job in pursuit, is a reliable wrap-up tackler...
Moved inside in 2010 to account for suspended players and ended with 10 sacks and 15.5 TFL, very versatile with the ability to play end or tackle in a four-man front and is one of the best five-technique prospects in the draft... Has a lot of upside and is just scratching the surface of his potential.
Negatives -- Doesn't have a true go-to move, doesn't have great edge speed and isn't a speed rusher by any means, is more of a stack and shed type player who overpowers linemen, doesn't show a swim move much... Doesn't get his hands up in passing lanes when he can't reach the quarterback... Can be slow to react to run plays...
Plays with a high pad level and can be washed out of plays... Worst case scenario he ends up as more of a space-eater than dominate pass rusher, is a boom or bust prospect who hasn't played to his level of talent and leaves more production on the field than you'd want from a high first round pick...
Unrefined, plays with an inconsistent motor, only flashes his ability to dominate and take over games, has a high ceiling but his bust potential is pretty high for a "sure-fire" Top 15 pick...
Seemed as if he was playing "not to get injured" in 2011...Was investigated for potential NCAA violations after attending a draft party with former teammates Robert Quinn and Marvin Austin, but was cleared of any improper conduct."
The Kinston, NC native had 6.5 tackles for loss and five sacks as a sophomore then erupted as a junior with 10 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss. He has been a little inconsistent through eight games as part of a star-studded North Carolina defense, recording 4.5 sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss.
With outstanding size at 6'6'' and 285 pounds, Coples projects to be a star end in a 4-3 scheme at the next level. He has speed in the 4.7 range in the 40-yard dash and has been clocked as fast as 4.67 from that distance.
Even though he is a versatile defender who can play both end and tackle, Coples needs to improve against the run.
Coples would also do well to develop a signature move that he can use to get past offensive tackles since he does not have the speed to consistently blow by them (although simply overpowering them is an option)."