NEW YORK -- Here are five pre-draft notes that I came across in New York Wednesday when talking to a bunch of folks at an NFL event:
1. NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock really, really does not like North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples, who the Panthers are considering taking with their No.9 pick (or later, if they trade down). Mayock has Coples going anywhere from No.12 to the early 20s in his mock draft, and here’s what he said about Coples when I asked him Wednesday:
“Here’s my deal with Coples: I’ve never liked his [game] tape [from his final season at North Carolina]. I wouldn’t draft him. But I do recognize the talent. He showed it at the Senior Bowl when he was motivated. I get nervous when guys have bad senior-year tape but great Senior Bowls. It tells me there’s a money drive there…. He’s a boom-or-bust guy. He can be an All Pro, and I don’t deny his talent… I just say ‘buyer beware.’”
2. Coples told me Panthers general manager Marty Hurney and coach Ron Rivera visited with him and members of his family for “a couple of hours” Monday in Chapel Hill.
“They came down to visit with me and my parents and got a chance to see my family and get familiar with where I came from,” Coples said. He added that it “would be great” to be drafted by Carolina and that in his mind the talk of his taking plays off is unwarranted.
3. Mayock believes the Panthers will ultimately take Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox with the No.9 overall pick. “Because there are so many offensive players in those first six, seven, eight picks, I think they [the Panthers] might have their pick on defense,” Mayock said. “You can look at [Boston College linebacker Luke] Kuechly. But I think ultimately Fletcher Cox makes a lot of sense there. He’s a 300-pound defensive tackle that can actually play on the edge also. He’s powerful. He’s young, which I like. He played in the SEC. He was dominant at times. His best football is ahead of him just because he is so young and hasn’t even grown into his body yet.”
4. Talk about playing it close to the vest. I talked with Cox – who came to Charlotte to visit with the Panthers – for awhile Wednesday in New York. I asked him a question I’ve asked various players 100 times before and never had it not be answered: “What are some of your strengths as a player?”
Cox said he wouldn’t answer that question. I have no idea why. He did say he liked Ron Rivera a lot.
5. There were about 25 NFL draft prospects at this event, and the one who attracted the most attention – even more than soon-to-be No.1 pick Andrew Luck – was former Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III. He’s a polished, funny interview, promising to unveil a mysterious pair of socks for the draft and also calling himself a “hopeless romantic” with a love of the music of Luther Vandross. Griffin will almost surely go No.2 to Washington Thursday night.
Now it's off to Times Square to see if Cam Newton ends up on the Madden 13 cover or not (to see how much he wants to be there, read my blog post just below this one).