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.
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.