An unexpected fall last year left the Detroit Lions with one of the most celebrated players in the draft. Defensive tackle Nick Fairley had once been considered a potential No. 1 overall pick, and the Lions were thrilled to draft him at No. 12. Now I'm wondering if an NFC North team could benefit from another fall by a talented defensive lineman.
There are no recent red flags on North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples, but the public discussion surrounding him includes some of the same work-ethic related keywords that have led to recent drops by Fairley and others. Speaking to several ESPN.com bloggers at the scouting combine, ESPN analyst Todd McShay said there were times when Coples stood up in games and "appeared to have a union deal." More recently, McShay said on his Draft Minute video series that there are times when Coples "is the best defensive player in the class" and there are others when "you watch him and say, 'Man, he's mailed it in.'"
Pass rushers are at such a premium that teams are willing to overlook some flaws to get the kind of presence Coples brings with his 6-foot-6 frame and 81-inch wingspan. It makes you wonder if a team like the Chicago Bears, whose needs at defensive end we have well-discussed, wouldn't be an ideal fit. Coples would have an All-Pro in Julius Peppers to attract most offensive attention, and he would have one of the league's top defensive line mentors in coordinator Rod Marinelli to keep him pushing forward.
ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. ranks Coples as the 14th-best player in the draft, and it would require a significant fall for him to still be available when the Bears pick at No. 19. But if he gets out of the top 10, as it appears he might, it wouldn't be a terrible idea for the Bears to consider trading up to get him.
The Sports Science video gives you an idea of how imposing Coples is as a pass disruptor even if he doesn't get past the line of scrimmage. Check it out.