Coples eager to show Jets made right move in NFL draft

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Quinton Coples heard the boos when his name was called as the New York Jets' first-round draft pick.

The big defensive end also knows all about the doubters who questioned his work ethic and wondered about his so-so senior season at North Carolina. Just wait, Coples said, until he gets on the field for the Jets.

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"I always play with a chip on my shoulder," the 16th overall pick said at a news conference Friday at the Jets' facility. "I always want to get better. There's always room to improve. That's how I live my life."

There was a time when Coples was considered a potential No. 2 selection behind Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck. But then an inconsistent season for the Tar Heels caused him to slip down some teams' draft boards. There were also questions about his desire and passion for football.

"Well," said Coples' mother Gail, "they don't know Quinton."

The Jets think they know enough, though. So, they were thrilled Coples was still available when their turn to pick came up Thursday night at No. 16.

"They got a great value," the soft-spoken but confident Coples said.

Coples tied for third in Tar Heels history with 24 sacks, including 17 1/2 in his last two years, despite having four position coaches and two head coaches during his college career. That didn't satisfy many vocal fans who were hoping to get South Carolina's Melvin Ingram, but instead booed the selection of Coples at the draft site at Radio City Music Hall.

"The Jets fans are definitely passionate about their team," said Coples, appropriately decked out in a light green shirt and tie. "I'm willing to exceed their projections or whatever that they have for me."

Coach Rex Ryan certainly has high hopes for Coples, whom he compared to former Jets pass rushers Shaun Ellis and Trevor Pryce. The Jets finished fifth in overall defense last season, but they were hardly dominant when it came to putting consistent pressure on the quarterback. New York's 35 sacks ranked tied for 17th in the league, and Aaron Maybin led the team with just six.

The imposing Coples - he's listed at 6-foot-5 and 284 pounds - should give the pass rush a big boost playing alongside veterans Sione Pouha, Mike DeVito and Muhammad Wilkerson, the team's first-round pick last year.

"The old saying is that the defensive tackle's job is to push the quarterback back, and the outside guy's job is to push the quarterback forward," Ryan said Friday night. "I think with this addition, we can push that quarterback back a little bit."

Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press

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