The NFL has become a passing league. Elite quarterbacks such as Peyton Manning and Tom Brady constantly lead their teams to success. On defense, stopping these up tempo styles comes from an ability to pressure the opposing signal caller.
For the New York Jets, a true force at this skill has not been present for over a decade. Their last great bona fide pass rusher was likely John Abraham, who was one of the team’s four first round picks obtained in various trades in 2000. He was on a path to superstardom by collecting 40.5 sacks during six seasons in the Big Apple.
Unfortunately, financial disagreements proceeded to separate the two parties. Abraham was a three time Pro Bowler and while the Abraham trade led to the selection of Nick Mangold, it left a void. Especially being in the same division as New England Patriots and Future Hall of Famer Tom Brady, there has to be a way for the Jets to at least create an allusion of pressure.
Fast forward seven years, and this was still an issue. Rex Ryan personally chose Quinton Coples from the University of North Carolina with the 16th overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Coples had an inconsistent career in Chapel Hill, but here was a time where he was viewed as a top five selection.
Sadly, the effort was not there, as the UNC agent scandal left this immensely talented individual feeling like there was little to play for. Coples was seen as an enigma because some questioned his work ethic. Despite not seeing much action until later in the season Coples still registered 5.5 sacks during his rookie season. He also contributed 30 tackles, which showed versatility. If he shows a willingness to consistently give effort, Coples could become a major factor in the Jets’ pass rush.