If you take a second to peruse the NFL Draft Tracker on NFL.com, you’ll find that there are two players from the Cincinnati Bearcats listed among the hundreds of prospects prior to today’s NFL Draft. One of them is defensive tackle Cortez Broughton and the other is a fellow defensive tackle in Marquise Copeland. While there is certainly a chance other former Bearcats will get drafted or signed as undrafted free agents in the next few days, Copeland’s inclusion would appear to make it more likely that he is on the radar of at least a few professional teams. With that in mind, let’s take a look at what he could bring to an NFL roster.
Perhaps the most effective parts of Copeland’s game are his tackling ability and his work as a help defender. He amassed at least 50 stops from the defensive line in each of the past three seasons, including a personal best of 63 in 2017. Many of those tackles were of the assisted variety, showing that he is capable of both starting the point of attack and aiding teammates who are attempting to do so. That made him a valuable contributor in run defense for the Bearcats, as ball carriers very often were met at the line and slowed down before they could get into the open field. Copeland can’t take all the credit for UC’s American Athletic Conference-leading rush defense from 2018, but he certainly played a large role in getting them there.
Copeland has also shown promise in his ability to create pressure, improving his sack total every year of his collegiate career while producing a total of 21 tackles for loss across 47 games played. That type of durability is another trait that could serve him well at the next level.
Area to Improve
Despite improving his pass rushing ability, Copeland still wasn’t the most formidable player on the Bearcats in that area. He tied for fourth on the team last season in sacks and his 8.5 career total were only a handful more than Broughton had all by himself in 2018. Defensive tackles are not always asked to rack up incredible numbers of quarterback takedowns, but in an era where players like Aaron Donald are doing so, it would help if Copeland could produce a bit more pressure.
The Detroit Lions were one of the worst tackling teams by volume in the NFL last season, so they could certainly use a player who can help end plays sooner. They were also not one of the better teams against the run, ranking 20th in the league in yards allowed while only 12 teams had a higher mark in opponent rushing yards percentage, according to Team Rankings. Other teams that could use a player with Copeland’s skills include the Arizona Cardinals and the Buffalo Bills.