Sometimes it is hard for a rookie to live up to the high expectations when they enter the NFL. If you want someone to ask, go ask New York Jets‘ former first round pick Vernon Gholston. Being called as a bust, a college-only player and just plain out bad is not encouraging to the young players who join the league for the first time. If Jets’ Quinton Coples wants to avoid being called the next Vernon Gholston, then this needs to be the season he finally steps up and plays to his potential.
Coples was drafted as a defensive end coming out of North Carolina, but the Jets converted him into a linebacker during the 2013 offseason. It’s hard for a young player to make the switch to a new position early on in their career, so growing problems were expected.
Coples played well at linebacker last season, but he wasn’t great by any means and actually, he pretty much put up the same numbers in 2012 as a defensive end as he did in 2013 as a linebacker. In 2012, he has 30 tackles and 5.5 sacks and in 2013, he had 38 tackles and 4.5 sacks.
The best thing that happened to Coples was when the New York Jets brought in Jason Babin on July 23, 2014. Now with Babin on the team, Coples is pushed to succeed more now than he was previously. GM John Idzik always preaches competition and even though Babin is a DE and Coples is a converted LB, both have the same task; get after the quarterback.
Having a talented veteran there to help push the young defender will help in a number of ways. Babin is going to help take some of the pressure off of Coples and it should help him get to the quarterback a little easier. Also, if Babin is putting up great numbers, it should motivate Coples to step up his game and try to outshine the veteran.
As if Coples needed anymore motivation, the Jets took him with the No. 16 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft and a few picks later the New England Patriots took DE Chandler Jones at No. 21. Jones had 11.5 sacks in 2013 compared to his 4.5, so he could use that for more fuel if he wants to justify his selection ahead of Jones.
The Jets wouldn’t have taken Coples if they didn’t think he had the tools to be a great defender in the league, and if the Jets make it as a top five defense in the NFL this year, Coples may be the reason why.