If you couldn’t tell last night, I was not happy about the Quinton Coples selection. Staff writer Chris Gross has me feeling a little better about it this morning but I still have many reservations, so let me explain why.
I love Rex Ryan as head coach and I like Mike Tannenbaum as a General Manager. Both individuals have been successful more than they have not since becoming employed by the New York Jets. However, part of what makes them good at their jobs is also what leads them to making occasional poor personnel decisions. Lately, the poor personnel decisions have been outnumbering the smart ones.
They are both head strong, stubborn individuals which leads to overestimation of talent and belief in their ability to salvage any situation. We have seen Tannenbaum neglect the offensive line, believing they would be okay with Anthony Clement and Adrien Clarke starting in 2007 instead renegotiating with Pete Kendall and signing a right tackle. He repeated the mistake last year by letting Damien Woody walk, installing backup Wayne Hunter as a starter and then finding no depth behind his starting offensive line.
Since Rex has taken over, he espouses the belief that he can make any player or situation work in his locker room and we have seen Tannenbaum’s draft and free agency mistakes gradually increase. What I am talking about? Let’s review the past couple of years -
- Taking Division I-AA lineman Vladimir Ducasse in the 2nd round, switching his position immediately and expecting him to start. Ducasse has given the team nothing through 2 years.
- Bringing Derrick Mason into the locker room when he had a history of causing problems. Mason caused problems.
- Signing Plaxico Burress over brining Braylon Edwards back. Burress couldn’t get open in between the 20s and caused problems in the locker room.
- To a lesser extent, Rex pushing for another corner in round one back in 2010 when it wasn’t an area of need as the Jets took Kyle Wilson. Through two years, he has been average at best and made one impact play (an interception last year against San Dieg0). While it is too early to fully judge him, it is fair to be disappointed with his production thus far. Rex also went crazy for John Conner in the 5th round of the same draft and we have seen Conner be average at best last year when given a full time role (watch the tape).
- Last year the Jets took Kenrick Ellis in the third round. He basically redshirted his rookie year because he was nowhere near ready to play.
These recent choices factor in my judgement of the Coples selection. The Jets are coming off a poor off-season last year which led directly to a 8-8 record. They have many holes in a roster that currently resembles that of a 7-9 team, not a 10 or 11 win team ready to compete with New England. It was a smug decision to draft Coples. It was a decision that says, “we are a player or two away and we can risk it on a boom or bust prospect.”
What you need to remember is that Coples is a defensive end, not an outside linebacker. The team has already confirmed he will play with his hand in the dirt and compete with Mike DeVito for the starting end position. Instead of addressing a glaring area of need at outside linebacker, safety, right tackle, wide receiver or running back by drafting that spot or trading back to acquire picks to fill all those holes, the Jets drafted at a position where they had two capable starters (Wilkerson and DeVito and two capable backups (Dixon and Pitoitua). Beyond that, last year’s third round pick Kenrick Ellis was supposed to see reps at defensive end along with nose tackle, which he won’t have the chance to do as much anymore.
So what do you do now? Do you trade/cut Mike DeVito, start Coples and let your run defense suffer? Or do you have Coples be a rotational player on passing downs, where he would likely be most effective? Unfortunately, the Jets needed more than a rotational player in the first round, they needed a 3 down player.
The questions about Coples effort and motor are maddeningly frustrating to hear. However, if the proper veterans (Sione Pouha) stay on him and he is coached properly (pressure on Rex and DL coach Karl Dunbar), the talent Coples has is unquestionable. On physical attributes alone, he is the best pass rushing prospect in the draft. I do believe he has the skill set to be a double digit sack guy. I also believe he has the potential to be a complete non-factor this year.
The question is why do Rex and Tannenbaum need to keep rolling the dice? Why take the player with effort/attitude issues at a position where he could struggle to get reps on your roster when you could have taken a comparable player without the effort/attitude issues at a position of need? It is stubborn. It is headstrong. It is smug. It is Rex Ryan and Mike Tannenbaum in a nutshell. The approach worked in 2009 and 2010 but came up empty last year. Let’s hope this spin of the roulette wheel ends up on the Jets number.