When the New York Jets decided to pass on a trade with the Pittsburgh Steelers and instead selected defensive end Quinton Coples with the 16th overall pick, they were taking a risk. Coples didn’t play like a first round pick in 2011 and had motor concerns going into the 2012 NFL Draft. Despite this fact the strength of the team might still be the defensive line.
According to Profootballfocus.com (PFF) Sione Pouha was the NFL‘s best run stopping nose tackle in 2011, a sentiment I agree with. Muhammad Wilkerson improved as a five technique defensive end in the second half of the previous season and will likely be a better player in 2012. Mike DeVito is a stellar backup at defensive tackle/defensive end and will provide the Jets with a valuable option on definite run defense situations.
Wilkerson himself said that Coples is more talented than him, but the only question is whether or not the rookie gives his best effort on every play of every game. Coples has an exceptional frame and very good athleticism at the five technique position but the disparity in performance when comparing 2010 to 2011 is significant.
After the Jets selected Coples I was saying that was a good move, not knowing they passed on a trade offer, but because I knew Coples had plenty of talent and that playing for Rex Ryan was an ideal situation for the rookie. If Ryan takes an active role in developing Coples and the new Jet responds well, then the team could end up with the best three man defensive line in the NFL.
That is exactly why this defense’s strength in 2012 will likely be the defensive line.