Not only did the Jets get their best player available, they also addressed their biggest need heading into the offseason when they used the No. 16 pick of the NFL Draft to select North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples.
It was far from a well-kept secret that the Jets coveted Coples as head coach Rex Ryan ran the defensive end through his workouts during his Pro Day at North Carolina. The Jets were the 17th in the league in getting to the quarterback, with their pass rush generating just 35 sacks last season. Coples certainly helps that issue, having registered 24 career sacks for the Tar Heels, tied for third all-time in the program’s history.
Last week when Coples visited the team facility, he said Ryan promised him that if he was available, the Jets would take him.
“He’s going to play with his hand in the dirt for us,” Ryan said.
“He just told me that if I’m there, at No. 16, they’re going to take me no matter what,” Coples said.
With Michael Floyd off the board at pick No. 13 to Arizona, it was obvious that the Jets were going to get a pass rusher. The selection of Coples marks the third straight year and four of the last five drafts that the Jets have taken a defensive player.
Coples said he is comfortable playing as a five-technique defensive lineman or dropping back into coverage.
“Quinton is a great pass rusher, he’s long, he’s tall, he’s very athletic,” vice president of college scouting Joey Clinkscales said.
“He was the highest rated player left on the board for us.”
Coples was ranked the top defensive end in the draft by CBSSports.com.
There are questions about his work ethic and engine on the field, but Ryan didn’t see any of that last month in Chapel Hill when he pushed the player.
“He wasn’t winded, going through all the defensive line drills; he wasn’t winded,” Ryan said. “I wanted to push him.”
But at the end of the day, Ryan and the Jets kept their promise to Coples and brought in a player they think will help in “keeping opponents off the board.”
“Prototypical pass rush size. He’s athletic; this guy can run. He ran in the 4.7s [in the 40-yard dash] in Indy,” Ryan said.
“This young man is staying with his hand in the dirt.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.