The middle of the first round of the NFL draft is a tricky place for many organizations. Some teams get trapped reaching for a player entirely too early. Other times, teams drafting in the middle of the first round look to add depth, and yet others subscribe to the “take the best player available” philosophy. The Philadelphia Eagles, thanks to an 8-8 record in 2011, have the pleasure of drafting 15th overall in the 2012 NFL draft.
The Eagles have a few glaring deficiencies they need to address before the 2012 season begins. Most of those concerns are on the defensive side of the ball, where the Eagles could surely use some help at linebacker as well as added depth at safety and defensive line. The need at defensive line is the reason that Philadelphia could find themselves drafting North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples.
Coples is projected to be selected in the top 20, so if the Eagles take him with the 15th overall pick, it would not be considered a reach. The 6’6”, 285 pound defensive end was a 2011 candidate for the preseason All-America team. He finished his 4 year career at North Carolina with 144 total tackles and 23.5 sacks (with 17.5 of those sacks coming in his last 2 seasons).
Coples’ athletic ability has never been questioned. He has the speed to get around the end as well as the power to force his way through the interior of the line. That versatility is the key to success in the NFL, and is a major reason he is projected to be drafted in the top 20. Physically, he is the prototypical defensive end.
The major knock on Coples is not physical, but rather mental. There are some concerns that he does not always go full speed and has a tendency to take some plays off. In order to have any semblance of success in the NFL, especially as a rookie, it is imperative that players are totally committed to constantly making themselves and their team better. Not everyone is convinced Coples is willing to do that.
The Eagles could certainly use Coples’ talents to bolster an already stout defensive line. If anyone can get him motivated, it is defensive line coach Jim Washburn. The main question is whether or not the Eagles want to take a gamble in the first round on a player that is incredibly gifted athletically, but may not have his head totally where it needs to be in order to be successful