You’ve met Manning vs. Leaf and Luck vs. RGIIl… but how will Irvin vs. Coples be remembered?

Quinton Coples and his new jersey/AP

The NFL Draft creates stellar comparisons every year. We watched as teams debated over whether to take Peyton Manning or Ryan Leaf, and we know how that turned out. This year, it was Andrew Luck vs. Robert Griffin III, and they won’t be able to exist in the NFL’s world without being compared to one another. That’s the reality.

Teams make their choices, think they got the right guy, then see how it all plays out. But Luck-RGIII won’t be the only players battling to prove their team got it right in 2012. Two other high-profile players at the same position will forever be stacked up.

Pass-rushers Bruce Irvin and Quinton Coples.

You remember these two — The Seahawks grabbed Irvin at 15, the Jets got Coples at 16, and then the Jets allegedly called Seattle to say they wanted Irvin, too. Whether that was actually how it went down is not an issue. It’s now the perception, it’s been entered into the NFL’s storytelling databases (like the unproven theory that the Jets selected Vernon Gholston to keep him from the Patriots).

Whatever Irvin does, it’ll be compared to what Coples does.

I think we can forget all that talk about the Seahawks “reaching.” They weren’t alone in being interested in Irvin, who is talented but has a complicated past. And the Jets weren’t alone in wanting Coples, who is similarly talented but didn’t always play hard. The Jets, it sounds like, just wanted Irvin a little bit more.

Yes, it’s somewhat unfair to both players. If one takes an extra year to develop, the criticism will start for the other early. If Coples takes a while to learn a more complex scheme, he’ll be held up as failure if Irvin hits the ground racing. If Irvin shows how raw he is in Season 1 and Coples makes an impact, Seahawks fans will start to wonder if they got the right high-risk, high-reward pass-rusher.

The Jets could have traded up for Irvin, but they didn’t. The Seahawks wondered if they could’ve waited out Irvin, but they couldn’t. In the end, both team ended up with their guy… and history will tell who grabbed the right one.

And it’ll likely be at the expense of the other one.

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