Recognize the guy in the picture? He was one of the most disruptive forces in football last year. Nobody wanted anything to do with him this time last year. On draft day, we all rejoiced when the Giants took him before we had a chance to. We laughed at their misfortune, there was nothing to like about Pierre-Paul, he was known only for doing backflips.
Well that kind of sucked in retrospect.
Derrick Morgan has got a long way to go if he wants to be Jason Pierre-Paul. Two years ago I'd have thought for sure that the roles would be reversed. In any case, Morgan isn't alone, 99% of the league's defensive ends have a long way to go to match JPP's production from 2011, however, I do wish the discrepancy were less evident. I don't know that Morgan will ever be the pass rusher that Pierre-Paul has become, but so far his career has been one big worst case scenario, I have a feeling that the chips will start to fall in his favor pretty soon, he was simply too good of a player to fizzle out like this at the next level.
But this is not a post about Derrick Morgan and his perceived shortcomings, this is about the mistake the Titans made two years ago and how they can avoid making it again in 2012.
First of all, don't listen to the pre-draft hype concerns that will undoubtedly follow a player like Coples into April. Despite all the concerns about a massive drop off, Coples still had a reasonably productive season and absolutely dominated the guys he went against in one-on-ones, both in game situations and in the Senior Bowl. Yes, it appears that at times he could appear disinterested in the game, but what lots of evaluators seem to forget is that once these players get to the NFL, they're being motivated by massive amounts of money. Money talks guys, it really does. I always am hesitant to just give up on a prospect because their motor is allegedly lacking some horsepower. Be honest; if a Hall of Fame lineman is in your face about something, you're going to listen. Assume these concerns really are legit, I'd argue that he just needs a wakeup call. If someone can get through to him early, there's nothing stopping him.The same concerns applied to Pierre-Paul coming out of college, he's turned in a fine few seasons and looked very motivated doing it.
Second, try not to base an entire career off of one season. This was our main concern when JPP came out; we saw one season of D1 football, granted, a season in which he dominated, but one season nonetheless. It was a legitimate concern. So what I propose is that we do the same thing when looking at Coples. Try not to just focus on the letdown senior year, at the same time don't just look at the breakout junior year. In fact, I'd recommend just watching him play, that's given me some perspective on the guy I didn't have before. For example, I never really thought Coples was a very fast player, and for the most part that's true, but when he comes off the edge he looks as quick and explosive as anyone I've seen. Suffice it to say that his main weapon is his strength; when Coples engages a lineman and wins the battle of leverage, it's game over, he's going to drive them backwards. In that respect, he's not quite the same type of player that JPP is, he's plenty athletic but doesn't just rely on it. I think it'd be a cop out at this point to say that he's a "solid run defender" just because he's not all about speed an finesse, but to a certain degree it's true, he looks good against the run.
What I'm trying to say is that your opinion on Quinton Coples should not be formed based only on the fact that you've heard that he's not interested in playing football for a middling ACC team. Instead, watch him play and see the potential to have a fantastic pair of defensive ends. Like Jimmy said, the Titans are one good pass rusher away from having a scary defense. This is a team in search of its' star, in the even that he drops all the way to 20, let's give Coples a chance to be that star.