(Long Island, N.Y.) It is perhaps the most glitzy crap shoot in all of the sports world. All of the fanfare over a three-day period in April – being held at Radio City Music Hall, no less – really amounts to a bunch of suits secretly crossing their fingers that this person they may be mortgaging their job security on doesn’t end up being spoken about as a bust.
That’s what the NFL Draft is in a nutshell, and the rabid fans wouldn’t have it another way. America’s Game takes top billing in the middle of its offseason while playoff hockey is being played, the basketball postseason is about to begin and the first month of the baseball schedule is nearly in the books.
And when it comes to the annual pilgrimage to the famous venue in Manhattan, the Rockettes get a few days off while football jerseys in every color dot the audience. A good portion of them happen to be Kelley green, and it is usually quite clear what the diehards of the New York Jets feel about their team’s selections.
By the time that the Jets were up in the first round last Thursday evening, it became clearer that thy would in fact walk away with a quality defensive end. A pressing need on this club, general manager Mike Tannenbaum had his choice of two guys left on the board that were both gone in a number of mock drafts.
One of those players was South Carolina’s Melvin Ingram and the other was Quinton Coples from the University of North Carolina. During the scouting and interview processes, the organization had their collective eyes on the latter, and decided that he would be their pick if still available.
“We spent an extensive amount of time with Quinton as far as getting to know him,” said Tannenbaum. “It started with the first interview in Mobile (Alabama) at the Senior Bowl and thought that he had a really good week there. We spent more time with him at the (NFL scouting) combine.
“He came up for a pre-draft visit, and I’m very confident in our process and the people that are involved with the process and everyone that saw, touched and evaluated Quinton as a person, came back with,’this guy likes football.'”
One glaring question surrounding Coples is his intensity and passion for the game, which will certainly be brought up every time that Coples appears to be going through the motions. The last player the Jets drafted in the first round that had similar questions surrounding him was Vernon Gholston, and the former outside linebacker is one of the organizations’s worst picks of all time.
Rex Ryan called it “two totally different situations,” and was so high on Coples that he secretly promised the young man that he would be a Jet if still available. “He’s a man of his word,” Coples said.
Working out of the 4-3 defense in college, Coples will have to grow accustomed to the 3-4 and doesn’t foresee it being an issue. “We had a package at North Carolina where we would run the 3-4, so I’m definitely familiar with (it),” the former Tar Heel said. “We also ran the package at the Senior Bowl, so I’m prepared.”
Because he had better stats as a junior, Coples probably cost himself at least a few spots at the draft. He made up for it somewhat with an impressive Senior Bowl, but now must come in strong and ready to go up against – at times – two heavier offensive lineman. Ryan made it clear that Coples will be lining up “with his hand in the dirt” at defensive end and not be moved around to outside linebacker, similar to what the coach tried to do to get anything out of Gholston before he was released.
All of that time and money spent on finding the best player and it comes down to what he does on the field to ascertain if he makes you look good or swallow your pride.