The simplest answer is often the correct one
This axiom is basically a boiled down version of the principal known as Occam’s Razor, and something that I think is extremely apropos around draft time. By nature we tend to over complicate the draft by looking for hidden meaning, subterfuge and double-talk, but more often than not teams tend to be pretty predictable when it’s time for them to turn in their pick.
If you paid attention to what Occam’s razor was showing you in February of last year it was clear that Cam Newton was going to be the pick, and I didn’t pay enough attention to it. The Carolina Panthers made it obvious they wanted a QB, they showed more interest in Cam Newton than anyone else, and now he’s our franchise QB… it’s as simple as that. This year we could very well see the same thing happen, except I believe Quinton Coples could typify Occam’s principal this year.
I’ve openly said I’m not a huge Quinton Coples fan, and a large part of that is personal bias; I have immense problems with players who have all the talent in the world, but not the application to harness it to its full potential. That being said, we would be remiss as a blog not to cover Coples simply because I have issues with his play style, so rather than harp on about that and get the self proclaimed ‘Copelites’ all worked up I thought I’d look at some key reasons why Marty Hurney and Co. could really get behind drafting Quinton Coples.
The scouting reports on Quinton Coples and Julius Peppers look eerily similar. Just take a look at what the National Football Post say about Coples and tell me if it reminds you of Pep:
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.
Old habits die hard, and for that reason alone I expect Hurney to seriously kick the tires on drafting Coples. The faults of Julius Peppers were many, but there’s no denying that he’s been missed since leaving for Chicago. Thankfully Charles Johnson has stepped up and filled a lot of that void, but the pass rush hasn’t been the same for several years. Ultimately, if Hurney thinks Coples can hold a candle to his breakout draft pick in 2002, then I expect history will repeat itself a decade later.
2. Marty Hurney likes to keep the shelves stocked at DE
In terms of pure talent this is about as low as the Panthers have been at DE in close to a decade. They have always been a franchise to keep a cadre of young, promising defensive ends around so they can fill in at a pinch. As it stands there’s no Charles Johnson waiting in the wings, and by this I mean a promising DE who can become a starter as needed.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Thomas Kesier, but realistically he’s a 4th or 5th option at best and shouldn’t be needed like we did in 2011. For this reason I wouldn’t surprise me if the Panthers took Coples with the aim of getting back that early decade dominance.
3. Ron Rivera is not satisfied with the DEs
It got to a point during the 2011 season where almost anyone could get playing time at DE. We had the likes of George Selvie, Antwan Applewhite and the aforementioned Keiser all getting significant time, and they all share the characteristic of being very light for their position.
Throughout the season we saw the DE rotation in flux, and when Charles Johnson was struggling with injury there was so pass rush on the field whatsoever. I know Rivera tends to be a ‘trash to treasure’ type guy, but how much can he do with the players he has now?
4. Like an organic restaurant…
The Carolina Panthers tend to source their players locally. If you look at their drafting history there are always big links to the states of North and South Carolina in terms of the players they bring in. This is only natural as it gives scouts ample time to watch players and truly evaluate them.
It’s for this reason alone I think Coples should remain in the discussion all the way until the draft.
5. Schematic versatility
There is one area that no player in this draft can match Coples in, and that’s versatility. At 6’6″, 285lbs he looks every bit a potentially dominant 4-3 DE, but he also has the ideal tools you want to see from a 3-4 DE. This isn’t a situations where you’re trying to project Coples as one player or another, but rather he can do both.
Theoretically, should the Panthers decide they want to add more 3-4 looks in 2012 they could very easily take out a DT and have Johnson and Coples play DE in the 3-4, with Hardy and Kesier (or Applewhite) as the stand-up pass rushers. We saw Ron Rivera value players who could move around a lot in 2011, and if having options on defense is something he wants then it could make all the sense in the world to draft Coples.
As I said, I’m not the biggest Quinton Coples fan in the world, and much of that is being biased when it comes to players who don’t seem to work hard. However, it would be ignorant to dismiss him as a possibility given just how abysmal the pass rush was in 2011. We can assert that the DTs let the team down until the cows come home, but sooner or later there will need to be a talent upgrade at the position- whether that’s through someone on the roster making the leap, or bringing someone new in.