Jets head coach Rex Ryan was the lone NFL head coach on hand for UNC's Pro Day in Chapel Hill on Mar. 20. During that event, Ryan specifically requested Coples to participate in linebacker drills to see how effective the 6-foot-6, 284-pounder would be in the Jets' 3-4 defensive scheme.
"Going through all of the defensive line drills, he wasn't winded," Ryan said. "So I wanted to push him, I wanted to see how he would compete through the drills and put him through drills that he wasn't familiar with, which were linebacker drills.
"And I forget who was there with me, but I said, 'I think I just made this young man a lot of money.' Because when we were going through the drills, he could catch the football and he could run. There's no saying he couldn't play outside linebacker because he looked that athletic. He was really impressive in those drills."
Ryan, however, made it clear during New York's post-selection press conference on Thursday that Coples will stay on the defensive line.
"This young man puts his hand in the dirt and rushes the passer," Ryan said. "He's very athletic for a big man. This guy's 6-foot-6, prototypical pass rush size. This guy can run; he ran in the 4.7s in Indy. It's unusual to get a guy this athletic and he has production... This young man is staying with his hand in the dirt."
Jets defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson provided his front office with insight on Coples dating back to their playing days together at Hargrave Military Academy in 2007, according to Ryan.
Coples is UNC's 20th first-round pick in program history and the fourth in the last five years. Nine of UNC's last 11 first-round draft picks have been defensive linemen.
Coples became the first defensive lineman to be named first-team All-ACC in back-to-back seasons at UNC since Julius Peppers in 2000 and 2001. The Kinston, N.C. native earned first-team all-conference honors in 2010 at defensive tackle and last season at defensive end.
Coples finished his senior season with 55 tackles, 7.5 sacks and 15 tackles for loss.