Obtaining a pass rusher in the draft is an absolute must if the Dolphins want to succeed on defense next season. I believe the Dolphins will address this need in one of the first two rounds. If the Dolphins decide to skip on Tannehill, they will be looking to draft someone to put pressure on the quarterback.
The top two pass rushing options are Melvin Ingram of South Carolina and Quinton Coples of North Carolina. Each player is projected to be able to fit in either a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme, which is vital since the Dolphins have claimed they will be running variations of both. Coples is more of a prototypical power defensive end, while Ingram looks more like a speed rushing outside linebacker.
The need for a pass rusher opposite Cameron Wake is huge, and each of these guys can come in year one and really help the team. Who the Dolphins select may come down to the type of defense they are going to run, which nobody knows for sure just yet.
Quinton Coples: Coples is a physical freak. He’s 6’6” and 285 pounds (Something I’m sure Jeff Ireland loves). He’s very athletic for his size and has long arms. Coples’ biggest asset is being able to hold his ground and stop the run. This is why Coples may fit better in a 4-3 with his hand in the dirt, where he can use his power to dominate tackles at the point of attack. In college he was a good pass rusher, but he needs to develop some pass rushing moves if he wants to excel at the next level. He’s not as fast around the edge as Ingram, but he’s definitely more powerful and has a nice bull rush. With his tremendous run stopping ability and huge size, he might be a perfect compliment to Cameron Wake who is more of a speed rusher.
Melvin Ingram: Ingram, though small, is extremely athletic and has a very high motor. I believe Igram would fit better in a 3-4 where he doesn’t have to always start in a tackle’s face and he can move around. If the Dolphins stick to a 3-4 and need a versatile guy, Ingram could be the pick. He’s played multiple positions along the front-seven in college. He’s rushed from the outside, played the inside, and even dropped into coverage. The only issue I see with drafting Ingram is that he may be too similar to Cameron Wake. Coples and Wake seem like they could compliment each other better. On the other hand, imagine two guys like Ingram and Wake with their high motors trying to get to the quarterback.
Final Thoughts: One knock on Coples that wasn’t mentioned is his character concerns. He’s been accused of taking plays off to keep away from injuries. If the Dolphins select him, they better do a good job of making sure those character concerns are put to rest. It’s hard to ignore Coples’ ridiculously high ceiling because of his size, strength and athleticism.
I really do think the pick might depend on what type of defense the Dolphins want to run in the future. They have said they will be sticking to more of a 3-4, but that may only be because the current players fit that scheme better. If Kevin Coyle wants to take that first step towards the transition to a 4-3, Coples would be a good start.