NFC East: quinton coples

A look at the 16th, 17th pick

February, 5, 2014
Feb 5
IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys will not know until a coin flip at the NFL scouting combine if they or the Baltimore Ravens will pick 16th or 17th in the first round of the May draft.

The only time the Cowboys used the 16th pick in the draft came in 1961 when they selected E.J. Holub in the second round. They have not taken a player with the 17th overall pick since cornerback Kevin Smith in 1992. Before that? In 1990 they took Emmitt Smith, who is now the NFL’s all-time leading rusher.

What type of player has been available at Nos. 16 and 17? Here’s a look at the past 10 years.

2013 – EJ Manuel, Buffalo; Jarvis Jones, Pittsburgh
2012 – Quinton Coples, New York Jets; Dre Kirkpatrick, Cincinnati
2011 – Ryan Kerrigan, Washington; Nate Solder, New England
2010 – Derrick Morgan, Tennessee; Mike Iupati, San Francisco
2009 – Larry English, San Diego; Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay
2008 – Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Arizona; Gosder Cherilus, Detroit
2007 – Justin Harrell, Green Bay; Jarvis Moss, Denver
2006 – Jason Allen, Miami; Chad Greenway, Minnesota
2005 – Travis Johnson, Houston; David Pollack, Cincinnati
2004 – Shawn Andrews, Philadelphia; D.J. Williams, Denver
2003 – Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh; Bryant Johnson, Arizona.

Polamalu is by far the best player selected in either spot. He will be in the Hall of Fame. There are quality players in there like Williams, Greenway, Rodgers-Cromartie, Iupati, Solder and Kerrigan. Andrews had a pretty good short run as well. Kerrigan is solid and has done some good things versus the Cowboys. Coples has showed some pass rush his first two seasons. I expected more from Kirkpatrick, who was on the Cowboys’ radar in 2012.

The Cowboys held the No. 18 pick in 2013 and traded down to No. 31 with the Niners where they took Travis Frederick. They felt they were in a position to trade down and still pick up a quality player. When they saw Eric Reid, Justin Pugh, Kyle Long and Tyler Eifert go off the board in the next four picks they were left sweating it out until they got Frederick.

What I'll be watching: Giants-Jets

August, 18, 2012
The New York Giants play their second preseason game of the year Saturday night at 7 pm against the Jets in East Rutherford, N.J. (It's technically a Jets home game, in case you're wondering.) Here's a look at what I'll be watching...

Most closely: The tackles. Will Beatty is out again with the same back injury that's been bugging him since the spring. Based on his brief time as a starter last year, this is still a player who needs practice. And he's not getting any. The longer they go without Beatty on the field, the more the Giants have to wonder if the player they have been hoping could be their long-term answer at left tackle is someone on whom they can rely. If the answer is no, a solution must be found, and I don't think it's as simple as moving David Diehl back over from right tackle in the middle of the preseason. And even if it is or not, someone like Sean Locklear or James Brewer will have to show something on the left or right side to make the Giants think he can be their Week 1 starter. Beatty still could be that, of course, but the game is in 18 days and he can't get on the field. So I'll be watching to see how Diehl, Locklear and Brewer look blocking for the run and against Quinton Coples and the Jets' pass rush.

On the other side of the ball: Prince Amukamara. The Giants' second-year cornerback and 2011 first-round draft pick was picked on during the first preseason game against Jacksonville and said this week he expects more of the same while he works to prove himself. He's getting a chance with Terrell Thomas on the shelf, and the uncertainty that surrounds Thomas and his recovery from knee surgery means Amukamara is a starting corner for the time being. He's got a chance to look good against a banged-up Jets wide receiver corps tonight.

If I think of it: Jayron Hosley, at nickel corner and on punt returns... D.J. Ware vs. David Wilson for the backup running back spot... Mark Herzlich vs. Chase Blackburn at middle linebacker... Which receivers Eli Manning looks as though he trusts most, out of Rueben Randle, Domenik Hixon, Ramses Barden, Jerrel Jernigan and, yes, Martellus Bennett.

NFC East weekend mailbag

February, 25, 2012
You send e-mails. I read through them, deleting the profane insults and picking out a few insightful questions to be answered here on the blog. It's a graceful, elaborate dance, and we call it the mailbag.

Gene from DC wants to know about Ryan Tannehill -- specifically, whether he's the kind of quarterback prospect who can work his way up the draft board in the coming months to the point where the Washington Redskins might take him at No. 6. Gene cites recent examples such as Christian Ponder, Tim Tebow, Josh Freeman and Joe Flacco as quarterbacks who ended up being picked much higher than it originally seemed they would.

Dan Graziano: Excellent point, Gene, and you didn't even mention Mark Sanchez, who was a late-first/early-second guy this time three years ago and ended up going No. 5. Quarterback is a vital position with a scarcity of elite talent, which is why those guys tend to get picked higher than their scouting grades indicate they should. And Tannehill is a prime candidate to be such a guy this year. If he impresses in workouts and interviews and the whole pre-draft process, I agree completely that he could be a mid-first-round pick or even a viable option for the Redskins at No. 6, even if right now it doesn't appear as though people think he should go that high. Quarterbacks go higher than they should, in general.

The Eagles Spoke to Griffin? from Middletown, PA heard the reports that the Philadelphia Eagles interviewed Robert Griffin III at the scouting combine and wants to know whether this is a case of "everyone talking to everyone" or if there's potentially something more to it.

DG: It'd be a huge surprise if the Eagles actually traded up and drafted Griffin. That said, it's not a case of "everyone talking to everyone," because teams only get a limited number of player interviews at the combine. The Eagles obviously wanted a chance to get to know Griffin and find out what he's all about. That could have been the result of pure curiosity. It could be due diligence, in case something happens and the guy drops to 15 and they want to know whether he's worth taking at that spot for the future or depth at the most important position. Griffin's an intriguing guy, and I'm sure there are a lot of teams that want a chance to meet him -- not just those who appear to be in position to draft him this year.

Anthony from Ft Worth, Texas asks how many free agents the Cowboys will sign this year and if DeMarcus Ware's sack numbers would go up if the Cowboys were to draft a pass rusher such as North Carolina's Quinton Coples.

DG: Sneaky two-part question, Anthony. The Cowboys could have around $20 million worth of cap room when it's all said and done, which should be enough for them to sign a cornerback, pass rusher (i.e., keep Anthony Spencer or replace him) and and interior offensive lineman in free agency. As for the draft -- Coples is a 4-3 lineman and likely to be gone by the time the Cowboys pick anyway. But if they do pick up an elite pass rusher (think Courtney Upshaw or Melvin Ingram) who outperforms Spencer in terms of getting to the passer, yes, that could be beneficial to Ware as the new guy would require teams' attention more than Spencer often does. Hard to imagine how much higher Ware's sack totals could go, but your logic is sound.

Seth from Vermont asks when was the last time the Giants used the franchise player designation and whether they have any candidates for it this year.

DG: The Giants franchised Brandon Jacobs three years ago because they felt like they were close to completing negotiations on a long-term deal with him, which they were and they did. As for this year's group, there are no obvious franchise candidates. They won't want to franchise Mario Manningham or Kareem McKenzie, because each of those guys would happily play for $9.4 million guaranteed in 2012 and that's much more than they'd want to pay them. Same with Aaron Ross and Terrell Thomas, whose franchise numbers would be $10.6 million, and Jonathan Goff, who'd get $8.8 million. Even if they wanted to bring back one, two or all of those guys, they'd want to do it at much lower numbers. Somebody asked last week about punter Steve Weatherford, whose franchise number would be $2.6 million. The Giants are at work on a long-term deal with Weatherford and I guess could conceivably do what they did with Jacobs three years ago if they can't get the deal done by the end of next week.