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2012 NFL Mock Draft: Panthers Select An Elite Pass Rusher To Replace Julius Peppers

With the ninth pick in the 2012 NFL Draft the Carolina Panthers select Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina.

The Panthers need a lot of help on the defensive side of the ball, as they ranked 24th against the run and 25th against the pass last year.

Perhaps no bigger need for the Panthers in the 2012 Draft is on the defensive line, as the Panthers only mustered 31 sacks last season.

At No. 9, the Panthers have a lot of options. DT Dontari Poe has been soaring up draft boards after his impressive 2012 combine and DT Michael Brockers has a lot of upside.

In today's NFL it is crucial that on defense you can pressure the quarterback and Quinton Coples is the highest rated 4-3 DE in this draft.

Coples left North Carolina with 24 career sacks, including 10 in 2010 and 7.5 in 2011. Coples is equipped with ideal size and good speed (4..72 unofficial 40-yard-dash) to get off the edge. When Coples is playing to his ability, there is no better pass rusher in this draft. However, many scouts and "experts" say that Coples takes plays off and has an inconsistant motor.

When Coples is motivated and focused he has the ability to become a Pro Bowl defensive end. Something the Panthers have been trying to find since the departure of Julius Peppers.

The Buffalo Bills are up next in the 2012 SB Nation Arizona Mock Draft and Cody Ulm has their selection.