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Quinton Coples needs to step up tonight

It’s been a disappointing season for Quinton Coples, who entered the year as the top defensive prospect on many draft boards. Coming off a year in which he had 10 sacks, Coples was expected to take his game to an elite level. Instead, Coples’ stock has plummeted and he may now struggle to sneak into the 1st round.

Coples (#90) needs to get his act together on the field

The most devastating game to Coples’ stock, in my opinion, was his performance against Miami. For much of the game Coples was stonewalled by 6’4″, 320 pound Brandon Washington, Miami’s left tackle who is better suited to play guard at the next level. Coples recorded one sack in the game, but was generally ineffective, showing a lack of athleticism and speed in his pass rush and was a non-factor against the run.

Tonight Coples’ North Carolina Tar Heels take on the 8th-ranked Virginia Tech Hokies in what will be one of his final opportunities to prove himself.

Coples will likely be matched up primarily against Hokies left tackle Andrew Lanier, a senior who is a fringe prospect at best. Lanier is a decent athlete, but Coples has the size and strength to dominate him in every aspect of the game.

His performance tonight could say a lot about his NFL draft prospects. With his raw ability there is no excuse for not having a strong game against the Hokies, especially considering the fact that the stakes continue to rise the closer we get to the draft.

If Coples is unable to close out the season on a strong note, however, it raises serious concerns about his preparation and he will have plenty of questions to answer this offseason about his mediocre senior campaign.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Exclusive Comments Off

What type of pro prospect is Brandon Weeden?

In the past few weeks Brandon Weeden has established himself as a legitimate Heisman candidate and, in the process, is starting to generate a buzz around his NFL Draft stock.

He may be one of the most controversial figures in this year’s draft class, and teams are likely to have a wide range of opinions on where he should be selected.

Weeden was a 2nd-round pick of the Yankees in 2002

He’ll be a 28-year-old rookie next year, older than a significant portion of his teammates, some of whom may be five or six-year veterans.

So how do we evaluate him?

My belief is that a prospect’s age is only relevant in the context of his NFL-readiness.

Weeden’s rookie contract will likely span three to five years, which is still well within the range of a quarterback’s prime. However, if teams believe he needs two or three years of development, he may not be worth the trouble.

Take Tim Tebow as an extreme example. The Broncos were willing to take a chance on him as a 22-year-old, but would they have been willing to invest in him had he been 28? By the time a 28-year-old Tebow had fully developed he would be in his early 30s and his skills would begin to decline almost as soon as he reached his peak.

Take Aaron Rodgers as an extreme example on the other end of the spectrum. He’s two months younger than Weeden. Would you sign him to a five-year contract after this season? Of course.

Somewhere in between Tebow and Rodgers is where Weeden stands today.

My early assessment is that Weeden has the physical tools (arm strength and accuracy) to be effective at the next level, but I have concerns about his decision making ability for two reasons.

First, he has a tendency to force the ball into tight spaces – often when targeting Justin Blackmon. This is probably due to Blackmon’s elite skills, which occassionally makes a poor decision by Weeden look like a brilliant pass. This works at the college level, but he will rarely, if ever, have the luxury of taking advantage of mismatches in the NFL that Blackmon creates in college.

Second, Oklahoma State’s spread offense generates a lot of open space and easy throws – especially against some of the porous defenses in the Big 12. We’ve seen quarterbacks such as Zac Robinson excel in this system but fail to make an impact on the next level. Weeden may possess the skills to succeed in a more demanding system, but he simply hasn’t been tested yet. This will slow his progress in the NFL.

Ultimately I believe Weeden is worth a mid-round pick and could be a serviceable starter at some point in his career. However, I would not be comfortable investing in him as the future of my franchise. There are 21 and 22-year-olds available in every draft with Weeden’s skill set; it would be safer to wait for a younger option with a higher ceiling than to settle for Weeden.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Exclusive Comments Off