Coples says Jets got 'great value' taking him 16th

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) - 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.

"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.

New York traded up four spots in the second round Friday night, acquiring the No. 43 overall pick from Seattle to select Georgia Tech wide receiver Stephen Hill.

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 Thursday night. "I think with this addition, we can push that quarterback back a little bit."

With Coples in the mix, Ryan and new defensive line coach Karl Dunbar have lots of depth at the position with players of varying skill sets. The Jets could potentially use Coples and Wilkerson, former teammates at Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia, on the ends with Pouha in the middle of a 3-4 base defense. They could also move DeVito inside, along with Coples or Wilkerson, with a four-man front and constantly rotate linemen to have a fresh and more effective line.

"They should be worried about me and Muhammad and big Bo (Pouha) in the middle and everyone else behind us," Coples said of opposing offenses. "We can be the No. 1 defense."

Now, that's what Ryan wants to hear.

"I want to come in and make an impact," Coples added.

He did exactly that as a junior at North Carolina, when he had 10 sacks and became a potential top-5 pick. There was some speculation that Coples - nicknamed "Q The Beast" in high school - might consider entering the draft last year, but he thought better of it.'

"I wasn't ready to become a professional," he said. "I think I played at a high level my junior year, but I wasn't ready to make the transition to become a professional on and off the field. That's why I stayed."

But he struggled early as he moved from the tackle position to an end in a 4-3 defense, and still finished with 7 1/2 sacks. Coples received his playbook from the Jets, but wasn't told of the team's plans for him or how exactly he'll fit into the 3-4 base defense. He's not worried about it, though.

"At Carolina, we had a package where we ran the 3-4 and I also ran it at the Senior Bowl," Coples said. "So I'm definitely familiar with the 3-4 scheme."

Coples was able to maintain his first-round status despite some adversity at North Carolina, including the program being involved in an agent payment scandal in 2010. He was also investigated by the NCAA for attending a draft party for some teammates last year, and later cleared of any wrongdoing.

"I know my child," Gail Coples said, "and I knew that he was telling the truth."

Coples also had to deal with constant change with the Tar Heels, playing for two head coaches and four position coaches. He got through it all, and now, he's going to be a big part of the Jets' defense.

"I just had to stay strong for the team," he said. "It's just an unbelievable feeling."

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