There are a number of reasons the Carolina Panthers will draft Quinton Coples if he is still on the board at No. 9 in the Rant Sports 2012 NFL Mock Draft, but the main one is versatility. Versatility is something Ron Rivera‘s defense sorely lacked last year, and he wants to get his defense back to the form his old Chargers’ teams were at, when they were the league’s #1 pass defense.
Rivera ran a 3-4 defense with San Diego, and though nothing has been said about making the defensive change, it never hurts to have the personnel to run both. Quinton Coples can do it; he went through both defensive lineman and linebacker drills during his impressive North Carolina Pro Day, and showed during his collegiate career that he can be effective both as a defensive end and defensive tackle.
The player Coples has been most compared to has been Julius Peppers. He could end up being both the best and worst that Peppers has shown during his NFL career: an astound athletic freak who tends to lose focus on certain plays. The Panthers will hope he ends up being all of Peppers’ best qualities, and none of his worst.
The main knock against Coples during his senior season was just that, lack of effort on certain plays, and if it is a concern that was big enough for the Panthers to take him off the draft board, then they might go with another defensive lineman (Melvin Ingram for example).
This writer’s bet, though, is that Coples will still be living in North Carolina next year, albeit in a different city.