Senior Bowl notes: Quinton Coples dominates

Kirk Cousins scored a touchdown as the North defeated the South

Before I get into this write-up I want to highlight an article I wrote earlier this weekend breaking down possible three-technique option Devon Still. Check it out by clicking here

I’ve just finished watching the Senior Bowl and wanted to quickly put a few thoughts on the blog. Firstly, the best player on the field today was Quinton Coples (DE, North Carolina) and it wasn’t even close. He was playing at a different level to anyone else, flashing superb range, athleticism, repertoire and extreme athleticism. His motor kept rolling throughout the game and he played like a top-five pick – he was virtually unblockable at times. The thing is, I’m not quite sure what to make of it all. 

Throughout 2011 Coples flattered to deceive. He was regularly subbed in and out of plays, time-sharing with Donte Paige-Moss (who also had a disappointing year). Coples played without fire, without urgency. He claims he struggled to adjust back to right end having featured mostly inside during 2010, but he still should’ve been dominating average college lineman due to his natural physical talent. His senior season was just a completely wasted opportunity, it was garbage. He turns up in Mobile for what amounts to a public job-interview and performs at a level beyond anything we saw in college this season. NFL teams must be asking themselves tonight which Quinton Coples they’ll get if they take him with a high pick. This version can be an all-pro and rival probably only Julius Peppers for natural-born ability to rush the passer. The North Carolina version is going to be a lethargic non-factor who costs you a lot of wasted money and maybe a reputation. 

In many ways this performance raises more questions than answers. The team that ultimately drafts Coples will be left with the ultimate risk-reward situation. So which team, if any, will it be at the top of round one to take this on? That’s what we have to work out. But today was the Quinton Coples we wanted to see throughout 2011 and nobody can deny the potential he has at his disposal. Quinton – don’t waste that potential

Teammate Zach Brown also showed well at linebacker. He was quick to react to plays throughout, flashed good closing speed and an aggressive edge I’ve not seen before. Brown was making plays all over the field and while he’s never going to be an effective pass rusher or gap clogger, he’s going to have a solid career as a sideline-to-sideline linebacker. There were a couple of occasions were he could’ve made a big play in coverage but missed, yet you have to give him credit for being in position in the first place on developing routes. That’s tough for a linebacker at any size. 

Vinny Curry (DE, Marshall) capped off a nice week with another solid performance. He’s quite a unique player – lacking the really big size but being more of a physical rusher rather than relying on speed. He boosted his stock this week and with teams looking for pass rushers, he could easily work his way into the late first/early second round range. 

Courtney Upshaw (DE, Alabama) had a quiet evening but for a sack at the start of the second half and a splash on a Kellen Moore throw shortly after. Melvin Ingram (DE, South Carolina) went a step further and was virtually anonymous. He does seem to have a new BFF in Quinton Coples though, the pair were inseparable all week and were constantly together on the sideline during the game. 

Despite a rough first series, Kellen Moore (QB, Boise State) made two excellent throws on his second drive only to be let down by bad drops. He’s still showing a slightly elongated release, but they were nice throws. We didn’t learn a great deal today from Moore, who was widely panned for his performance in work-outs during the week. At times his weak arm showed up as he made one or two ugly throws, including a near pick from a tipped pass (Coples) on his first attempt. We also saw some very accurate deliveries with adequate velocity when given time in the pocket. 

Twelve months ago I mocked Juron Criner (WR, Arizona) as a first round pick, before he opted to return to Arizona for his senior year. Overall he had a difficult 2011, but he reminded everyone today why he warranted such high praise a year ago. While there’s no AJ Green or Julio Jones in the class, there’s unique depth. Criner could be pushing his stock back into the high second round. The amount of depth at the position may put some teams off drafting Justin Blackmon in the top-ten, something we’ve discussed a lot recently on this blog. 

Teammate Nick Foles (QB, Arizona) looked like the player we’ve talked about all year. Away from Arizona’s high percentage scheme he looked out of rythm, he lacked mobility and struggled with pressure. He only seemed comfortable throwing to Juron Criner, the pair linked up for a touchdown. His footwork was generally poor, he looked uncomfortable getting out of the pocket and being asked to improvise beyond the play call. This week should act as a bucket of cold water to his stock, with some people strangely bumping him into first round consideration in the week leading up to the Senior Bowl despite a mediocre senior campaign. 

The two Arkansas receivers Jarius Wright and Joe Adams are going to make rosters in the league and provide excellent value. They’ll be two guys in a few years where people ask why they lasted so long on draft day. Exciting playmakers, top-end speed. Both will tear up the combine. 

Alameda Ta’amu (DT, Washington) had a really impressive game, flashing the kind of potential that at times had people considering if he could be a top-15 pick. He’s an ideal nose tackle, but moves well too and will offer some pass rush potential. He shouldn’t fall further than the first few picks in round two based on potential alone. Fellow Huskie Chris Polk also had a nice game after receiving criticism during the week for a modest performance during work-outs. 

Isiah Pead (RB, Cincinnati) probably took himself up a round or two today. He had back-to-back big runs on special teams and was awarded the game’s MVP. I’ve always liked Pead as a change of pace back and he’s going to have a lot of interest as a return man. 

Mike Adams (OT, Ohio State) looked superb at left tackle competing against a high quality South defensive line. I’ve never been that high on Adams, but he looked good this week. I’ve not studied left tackles much this year because it’s probably the one position this team will NOT be drafting in round one. I’m happy to admit my brief initial impression of Adams may have been wrong and teams needing a blind-side blocker will have him high on their board. The Seahawks need as many offensive tackles to rise as possible, because potentially it will push some of the better defensive talent into their path at #11 or #12. 

Another Buckeye – DeVier Posey (WR, Ohio State) – did his best job to unsettle Kellen Moore and Kirk Cousins with bad drops and finishing routes poorly. Not a good display at all. 

Jamell Fleming (CB, Oklahoma) had a tremendous year for the Sooners and showed up big here, including an interception on Brandon Weeden (QB, Oklahoma State). He’s one to watch, he has a shot at a good career in the NFL. For what its worth, Weeden’s hype needs checking. That was a bad throw from someone who suddenly is being talked about as a possible first round pick. Weeden had two interceptions on the day – completing only three more passes to his own team. He is not going to be a first round pick. Kirk Cousins (QB, Michigan State) was perhaps the most impressive quarterback, but there’s very little positivity to take from the group today. 

Bobby Wagner (LB, Utah State) isn’t a spectacular player and I’ve not had much chance to scout him during 2011, but he was the second best defensive performer on the field today after Coples. Just a solid football player who will enjoy a solid career if today’s evidence is anything to go by. Fellow linebacker Sean Spence (LB, Miamia) had a quiet game but was highlighted by Mike Mayock as someone who ‘made money’ during the week. In my most recent mock draft, I projected Spence to Seattle in round one.


  1. David

    I keep calling him Crier, ugh its CriNer, anywho, i liked him alot today,showed nice catching ability and good route running, who i didnt notice (i got late to this game) was Dwight Jones from NC, heard he was sloppy for a better part of the week though.

    Russel Wilson looked good aswell, isnt he the undersized QB? Commentators were saying that Wilson reminded them of a Rodney Peete.

  2. Ryan


    Good notes and I appreciate the read. If Coples is there when the Seahawks pick, I hope we pick him. Which is funny because a week ago I would have been extremely upset if we had. I hate players that don’t play for the love of the game or give it all the effort possible.

    However, if any team in the NFL is in a position to take a shot on their 1st rd pick we do. There really isn’t a decent fit at any position sitting at 11 unless one of the elite’s fall. If we don’t get RGIII in rd 1 I am totally ok with us taking a chance on someone who could truly lift us into the elite category. We have not had an elite player on this team for some time, which hurts to hear but its true. If there was better top end value I actually would not want to take a chance but in this position I am completely content with it.

    I know there are very few similarities between the Giants and the Seahawks but I remember the above average team taking JPP who was, a chance although for different reasons. When things like that pay off it truly takes your team to another level.

  3. Kip Earlywine

    It was reported that Coples wasn’t playing at 100% intensity during his last season because he wanted to stay healthy and not hurt his draft stock. Having watched some games of his from the last two seasons, I was really struck by his lack of effort and explosiveness. To be honest, I openly questioned if Coples was as talented as everyone seemed to think he was. A dominating performance in the Senior Bowl proves that motivation is Coples only real problem. That may not be a stock riser for Coples- He probably won’t become a top 10 pick just from one performance. But what this does is eliminates a great deal of doubt, and probably keeps him from falling out of the 1st round. You could think of him as being a bit like the “Jimmy Smith of DTs.”

    Hearing this account has changed the way I feel about Coples. Not many NFL teams have a coach as gifted at motivation as Pete Carroll. Coples has the flexibility to play two or even three spots on Seattle’s defensive front (I personally think he’d be best at the 3-tech, but he could probably get by at the LEO or 5-tech). Deep down, something tells me that Seattle will probably view Coples the same way they viewed fellow Tar Heel Robert Quinn. Over-rated and too risky. Its still early, but JS/PC’s draft history paints a picture of being very conservative early, then taking more risks later with mid-late picks. If Coples was a mid-round guy I think they’d be all over him. But at #11/#12, I don’t think it will happen.

  4. Aaron

    Unfortunately I read somewhere in the internetz that Joe Adams is not going to participate in the combine, which is disappointing (could be wrong, so don’t shoot me if I’m wrong). Watching the Arkansas tape Adams always caught my eye as being an explosive playmaker who can be a great PR/KR/Slot WR. 2nd Round definitely.

  5. Nick

    Love the guy but there is one huge problem that sticks out in my mind.

    If Coples wasn’t playing at full intensity last season because of draft stock, what is going to happen when he is in his contract year or very close to it? If he can’t show his faith to the team every year especially in the ones that count then I can’t take the guy regardless of how much talent he has.

  6. dave crockett

    Two points:

    1. On Coples — As a Mizzou fan, I watched the Independence Bowl with an eye on Coples and Zach Brown as potential Seahawk draftees. To say the least UNC has been a cluster****over the past several seasons, leading to the eventual firing of the coach. It’s pretty clear guys didn’t play hard, including Coples, but that coaching staff looked like they were interviewing for jobs. And they were. You put a LOT of people in that situation and many of them will size it up similarly to the way Coples did. They’re not going balls out. For some GMs that will be an unpardonable sin, but I hope that PC/JS don’t draw lines in the sand. I think Coples will be one of the most talked about guys at the combine; one of those interviews at the combine that EVERYBODY on the staff will attend.

    2. Is Mike Martin an answer at 3-tech? Rob, you didn’t mention him (unless I missed it) and I recall reading a few places that he had a very good week of practice.

    The more I think about it, the more I feel convinced that at 11/12 Seattle should be thinking BPA regardless of position (possibly except LT). If that’s Upshaw no problem. But I think it’s more likely that Upshaw is off the board, and the value at that point in the draft is more likely to be on offense.

  7. Rob

    Nick – That is (literally) the million dollar question. How is this guy going to play when he’s a millionaire? Does he want to be one of the best in the NFL, or is getting there enough for him? Is being a top-15 pick enough to massage that ego and create the sense of ‘job done’? Is he going to have seasons when the team are going through a tough patch (like at UNC) and he decides to mail it in? These are all the concerns I have.

    Dave – Mike Martin looked very good from the footage I saw. I have one of his games to publish soon. A solid mid-round effort guy.

  8. Doug

    Now he is going to go before we can take him…

    I was also glad that Kellen Moore didn’t look horrible, I still like that guy due to his incredible smarts.

    I was disappointed that Foles played as bad as you all have been saying. Too bad a great physical specimen like him can’t get it together. But, somebody will still take him sooner than later due to his size…

  9. jason

    with coples if you already dont have heart there is know way with millions he will bring it every game… I dont want him as a seahawk I would rather have sombody less athletic that will make plays because of heart…. Thats the only thing I dont want in a player is a quitter…. I would rather have a burcifet type atleast he is going hard…

  10. Rob

    I highly doubt the Seahawks will draft Coples if available, even after yesterday’s display.

  11. Mark

    If Coples has the right attitude the Seahawks will know it. They won’t leave a stone unturned in their pursuit of players. The question will be if the Hawks actually get the chance to draft him.

  12. Rob

    Tom – we’re all bored hearing your constant references to Griffin and Barkley. Enough.

  13. Doug

    Well, I’m getting tired of tooting Coples horn, so I will finalize my thoughts of him in one easy statement.

    Robert, I will bet you $0.25 (my standard bet) that, if available, the Hawks grab him in a new York heartbeat.

    I’m now almost sure he will be gone though. But, that might be just the one more player needed to have a TD maker fall to us. I for one, would be totally stoked to have Trent fall to us. Could you imagine the 1-2 punch of beast then TR? Geez I would hate to be a D-back facing that.

  14. Rob

    I appreciate the offer, Doug – but I’m not a betting man. We’ll just have to agree to disagree on this one – but as Hawkspur’s quote in the other thread put it, Schneider worked under Ron Wolf who never used all-star games to make judgements. Not every team is going to be sold on this guy’s ability and most of them could be very suspicious. Carlos Dunlap had similar question marks and fell into the 50’s. Coples won’t fall that far, but neither is it a lock he goes top-10. And considering the type of player this team has acquired so far, I’m not convinced Coples fits into their line of planning. We may well find out the truth on April 26th.

  15. Tarry

    Keep this name in mind… Kirk Cousins. PC & JS were seen chatting him up this week, and if he faired well, it could only help him. He’s a decent mobile QB that isn’t getting much hype because of the run first offense Michigan State runs. I don’t want to compare him to anyone, but I wouldn’t be shocked, and maybe even a bit glad if he’s the name the Seahawks call on draft day… maybe not 11/12, trade back a bit perhaps, but then again if Ponder and Locker can go early, so could Cousins.

  16. Rob

    Cousins definitely an option if he’s on the board in R2.

  17. Doug

    I agree with Cap’t Kirk in R2. I listened to his speech and found him to be a deeply honerable and stand-up man. Huge leadership abilities, and deeply intellegent. A wee bit small, but not too small, could develope into a Joe Montana type.

  18. Jarhead

    Hmmm… I’ve said before that Cousins is unremarkable and nothing more than another jersey in the NFL. There is nothing special about any of his game. If were are going QB as early as round 2, I don’t want an above average to average skill set and some tools, there needs to be something special. Not just another guy. On the subject of Coples, he doesn’t interest me in the slightest. Just another ego with some attributes. You know who he already reminds me of? Albert Haynesworth. All the talent, strength and raw power in the world, but as soon as he got paid, he showed that he was half a man and had no integrity nor love for the game. Coples reminds me of another “I love LOVE me some me” guy, and who wants that on our team? I certainly don’t- it doesn’t seem to mesh with the general attitude of the ‘Hawks at this point in time

  19. Derek

    Were you able to watch all the practices and game? What was your overall opinion on Spence and Keenan Robinson? Also how does this week change your opinion on Dwight Jones? Also I saw somewhere that JS was talking to receiver TJ Graham from North Carolina State after practice and some scouts had him as the best reciever all week. Might need to keep an eye on him but I’m sure film will be hard to find for that guy. Might be a 3rd/4th rounder. Also are you planning on doing a right up on WILL prospects? I think we really target a WILL backer in the 2nd or 3 rounds. What do you think?

  20. Darnell

    Kids that age need motivation, if the coches suck it really hurts. Sure, some are self motivated but not a lot.

    Anyone remember Red Bryant’s time as a pedestrian underachiever at A&M? – turns out that Franchione was just a terrible coach.

    If you don’t play hard in the NFL you get hurt.

    In any walk of life it’s not unheard of for someone to do the bare minimum in university and then go nail that first job interview and bust their ass to succeed from that point on.

  21. Tarry

    Cousins: Last note on Cousins. I think he’ll likely be off the board in the 2nd round by the time we are on the clock. They’d have to trade back in the first and take him late in the round. Trading back isn’t a bad idea to begin with, but would depend on who is on the board… not too many names that would prevent me from trading back: Upshaw, Richardson or Claiborne. I do expect all to be gone though.

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