MtD has teamed up with NFLMocks.com on a site-to-site Q&A, and this week it was me sending the questions over to lead editor Jesse Bartolis. This week, some thoughts on the upside of Alabama's Courtney Upshaw and the play of North Carolina's Quinton Coples.Of course, my question is bold and Bartolis' answer is in italics.
You have Alabama's Courtney Upshaw going pretty high in your latest mock draft, sixth overall to the Arizona Cardinals. What about him has you thinking he'll vault into the top 10 range?
One thing I'm cognizant of when making mock drafts is that unexpected picks are a certainty. I try to mock many different unexplored options that could happen. I think the Cardinals defensive front 3 is playing pretty well and their secondary has some talent as well, but they are lacking pass rushers at the outside linebacker spot. I think Upshaw's size (listed at 6'2 265) and explosion will be attractive to the Cardinals. Upshaw can rush the passer from the 34 OLB position and could also be apart of front four looks. His flexibility could really appeal to Wisenhunt and the front office in my opinion.
The other part of me mocking Upshaw so high has to do with a lack of pass rushers standing out in this draft. Some pass rushers are going to be drafted early because the position is to important like quarterback and offensive linemen. Who might those pass rushers be? I imagine that's a fluid situation from now until the draft and one of the most interesting storylines to follow.
The struggles of North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples have been pretty widely publicized. Do you base his lack of production this season simply on facing extra blockers, or does it have more to do with playing end instead of tackle this season?
I think it's a little bit of both. But I also think when I watch Coples play that his closing speed is better than his initial explosion. He's not going to be confused with Osi Umeinyora, or Von Miller. I think Coples uses his hands well and disengages well, but I don't think he's a dominant pass rusher at the next level. In terms of style of play in my preliminary scouting report of Coples I compared him to Justin Smith. He'll make plays vs the passer and he can take on the extra blockers, but I don't think he's a dominating pass rusher in the N.F.L.
I think ultimately he'll benefit from this being a weak draft class, but which defensive linemen would you take Coples over in the first round of last year's draft? Not many.
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