|"My agent was telling me, 'The Jets are getting ready to get you," Jones said Friday. (Getty Images)|
A year ago, Quinton Coples had a dominant junior season at North Carolina. As a senior, the program was in flux, he was inconsistent, and one scout went so far as to suggest that Coples "shut it down." All the drama was a red flag for some NFL teams looking for a franchise player worthy of a high-round pick. The Jets were undeterred, however, and eventually selected Coples with the No. 16 pick in last week's NFL Draft.
The decision to take Coples meant that New York was willing to pass on players like Melvin Ingram and Chandler Jones. The former ended up with the Chargers at No. 18, and the Patriots traded up to No. 21 to land the latter.
During a Friday interview with WBZ-TV in Boston, Jones admitted that he was surprised that the Jets passed on him. "Around 15 through 20," he said about when he thought he'd be drafted. "My agent was telling me, 'The Jets are getting ready to get you. The Jets called me. They're going to draft you.' So I am sitting here waiting. They were still on the clock and my phone didn't ring," Jones told WBZ's Scott Zolak.
While the perception was that Coples was slipping down NFL team boards in the weeks leading up to draft, Jones had gone from "raw physical specimen" to "legit pass-rushing game-changer" during that same time. Whether the Jets will regret taking Coples over Jones won't be known for some time. But head coach Rex Ryan didn't appear conflicted about the decision.
"Mike Tannebaum sent me down (to North Carolina), we had a great feel for the young man and Mike and I were like, 'Well, what if he's (on the board when we pick)?' So Mike sent me down there, and (Coples) went through all the d-line drills and he wasn't even winded," Ryan told ESPN's Sal Paolantonio last week. "So I was like, let's see him compete through the linebacker drills and see if we can't get him gassed doing drills he's not accustomed to and see how he reacts.
"Well, he went through there like he was a DB or something and at the end of it I turned over to Jay Mandolesi, our area scout down there, and said 'I think we just made this guy a lot of money.'"
As for any concerns that Coples doesn't show up on every down and his play sometimes lacks passion, Ryan doesn't see that as an issue.
"We never saw this young man that way. You know, I've been around a few other d-linemen that you can go back and look -- people said the same thing about, had the same questions about, and those guys are in the Pro Bowls. They even said the same things about the young man we drafted last year, Muhammad Wilkerson, who I think will eventually be a Pro Bowl player himself.
"We felt good about it, brought him up to (Florham Park) … and quite honestly, the pick was easy for us. When Mike said we're going to take Quinton Coples, he gets all the coaches' and scouts' opinions and it was unanimous, 100 percent that this was the man we wanted."
Coples has gotten off to a fast start. After the first day of Jets' minicamp, the first-rounder sounded confident. "It's been great," he said. "I grasped everything, didn't have any busts today, so things turned out great."
It gets better: Coples sounds quite comfortable with the Jets' defense. "Overall the defensive scheme, the majority of it is based off of what we got today, so I grasped the majority of the defensive playbook today."
Ryan admitted that it's early -- "This is one practice and he has like four defenses in and our library is a little more extensive than that" -- but applauded Coples' optimism. "I like his confidence and all of that. And the great thing is we'll hold him to it now. So in the meeting, that'll be our first question. We'll come up with something for him."
Jones, meanwhile, gives the Patriots something they've lacked in recent seasons: a player who can pressure the quarterback. “He's a perimeter player, a guy that lines up on the end of the line, whether you want to call him a linebacker or defensive end, but he's an end-of-the-line player,'' Belichick said according to the Boston Globe. “He's got great length -- height, arm length -- very athletic. He came out early, missed part of the season last year with an injury, but the opportunity he's had to play he's been very productive against a lot of good players in his conference, so we thought that he'd be able to work against NFL-type tackles."
New England's biggest weakness a year ago was on the defensive side of the ball. They addressed those needs last weekend, using their first six picks on defensive players.
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