- Matt Ehalt, ESPN New York contributor
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With the 16th pick, they had the option to choose between the defensive ends, and Gang Green ultimately selected Coples, the 6-6, 290-pound force from North Carolina. Five picks later, the Patriots traded up to choose Jones, an athletic but raw talent from Syracuse.
So far, the Patriots have gotten the better of the deal.
While Coples and Jones play in different defensive systems, Jones has been perhaps the best defensive rookie this season as he has 27 tackles, three forced fumbles and five sacks. He has been a monster off the edge for the Patriots and is on pace to have a double-digit sacks season.
Coples has been slower out of the gate. He has nine tackles on the year, although five has been for a loss, and has just 1½ sacks. He has hit the quarterback nine times but he's still learning his way as an end in the Jets' 3-4 scheme. He made his first start last Sunday vs. the Colts.
Jets coach Rex Ryan explained that size made the difference in selecting Coples over Jones. Coples is taller and has approximately 30 pounds on Jones, which is needed to play in the team's defensive scheme.
"They're kind of different guys," Ryan said. "For me, I preferred Coples. [He's] a little bigger."
Coples, 22, said he's friends with Jones as they went on several visits together leading up to the NFL Draft. They were two of five defensive ends to be selected in the 2012 Draft. Coples was the second to go. Jones was fourth. Coples added he doesn't keep up on Jones' stats.
Coples said his agent told him New England could be interested in an edge rusher if there was one around when they were selecting. He didn't last until the Patriots' pick. New England was slated to pick at the end of the first round before they made their move up to acquire Jones five selections after the Jets.
"We definitely respect each other's game and we know each other, " Coples said of Jones. "We have a good time every time we meet each other."
The Jets' rookie is coming off the best game of his career with 1 1/2 sacks and four tackles in the 35-9 win over the Colts last weekend. He hopes the performance will be a stepping stone for him as he continues to learn and adjust to playing in the NFL.
When he takes the field Sunday, there will surely be talk of how the Jets could have selected Jones instead. However, the rookie isn't looking at the game as his chance to prove he was the right pick.
"At the end of the day, before the game, we're going to shake hands and talk. It's not a comparison," Coples said. "My job is to go out and make sure I compete at the highest ability and make sure I'm in control of what I'm doing to make sure that we come out victorious."