As we’ve done in years past, we’re going to start up our Roster Countdown series of posts as we get ready for the regular season.
Background: Coples played four seasons at North Carolina and while his junior year raised him on the NFL radar, it was his senior campaign that brought questions marks as he entered the draft. Coples is a mountain of a man and his physical gifts are beyond question, but there was frequent analysis was that he had “motor” concerns. During Coples Pro Day, Rex Ryan worked him out and tried him at linebacker drills to get a better sense of the player. The night of the draft, Ryan crowed that the selection was one he badly wanted and with Melvin Ingram and Chandler Jones still on the board, Ryan might not have been blustering. During his rookie campaign, Coples led the Jets with 5.5 sacks. Coples first (and second) NFL sack came against the Colts and then over the last four games of the season, Coples notched 3.5 sacks sacks, clearly showing his progress as the season drew to a close.
2013 Projection: The flashes of brilliance that we saw from Coples should become more frequent in 2013, but there are those questions about role-change to rush linebacker. Coples can be used all over the formation and can be effective wherever the Jets line him up and so any switch shouldn’t slow him down too much. A lot has been made in the media about his coverage responsibilities, but that demonstrates ignorance to the role of the rush linebacker. A player must be able to key on the run and play the boundary, but 90% of the time he will be rushing the passer and of the linebackers he better be the best one at it. That’s well within Coples skillsets. This season we’d be surprised if Coples doesn’t hit a double digit sack total with the role he’ll play in accompanied by the wealth of talent around him with Wilkerson and Richardson.