Editor’s Note: As we get ready for the 2012 NFL Draft, we’ll be “meeting” some players who just might find their way to Buffalo come April. In this series we’ll take a look at possible Bills draft picks and break down their abilities and potential.
Overview: This very talented but not super productive defensive lineman will be a hotly debated prospect for the next few months. He has all the tools. Will he ever put them all together in the NFL?
Strengths: An incredible physical specimen with Great size (6’6, 272) and long arms. Very quick off the snap. Is effective at beating linemen to the inside and making plays. Does a good job against the run, using his long arms to keep blockers away to make plays. Solid instincts and recognition ability. Excellent tackler who won’t need help to finish off a ball carrier. Versatile enough to switch from DT to DE in college. Plays very hard and is clearly driven to succeed. Still some production despite facing constant double teams in his final season.
Also, according to at least one report, Coples is off to a great start at the Senior Bowl this week. From ESPN’s Todd McShay:
"“He was clearly the best player on the field during the South team practice. He made everything look easy, getting off the ball smoothly and showing quick hands, and it’s clear the game has slowed down for him. Coples beat Florida State OT Zebrie Sanders — a late-first-round prospect — cleanly on more than one occasion, and no other offensive tackle had a chance either.”"
Weaknesses: Doesn’t have a lot of pass rush moves. Won’t beat NFL offensive tackles around the edge often. Wasn’t terribly productive in his final college season: only 7.5 sacks, and 4 of those came against FCS school James Madison and ACC doormat Duke. Doesn’t have elite speed for a 4-3 defensive end…but it’s not a guarantee he could be effective in a 3-4.
How He’d Fit in Buffalo: It’s tough to know when we’re not sure what defense Buffalo will be playing in 2012. Coples’ ability to play inside or outside could make him very valuable in a 4-3 scheme. He would help improve Buffalo’s run defense immediately. His lack of sack production in college is a bit scary – would he just be yet another Bill who can’t get to the quarterback? He does have at least one supporter in BLD’s own Ron Bullard, in case you missed his article from earlier this week.
The Bottom Line: Coples has a ton of talent and showed his mettle by fighting hard against constant double teams during his senior season. Physically, he’s got it all. But there are a lot of athletic guys who flame out in the NFL. I’m somewhat scared he won’t get to the quarterback in the NFL. However, it’d be tough to blame Buddy Nix if he took Coples. (Of course, if he keeps dominating at the Senior Bowl, he might be off the board by Buffalo’s pick.)