The Cardinals needed a guard in the worse way, and no better way to get one than with their first pick in the NFL Draft, who took OG Jonathan Cooper with the 7th pick.
Cooper is one of the most athletic guards I have ever seen. It’s simply amazing to watch a man that is 6’2″ and 311 pounds play the offensive guard position and move around the field as fluidly as Cooper does. An interesting tidbit is that Cooper actually weighed too much to play Pop Warner football. Cooper was always bigger than the other children he grew up with, but he wanted to be athletic and he’s worked extremely hard to become the type of athletic lineman he has become today.
When Cooper is allowed to move and get into space, he makes it look easy. He possesses natural movement skills and agility. Cooper can get out and pull, then locates his man and makes a clean block. His athleticism in the open field allows him to not only block on second level, but also the third level and deep into the secondary. Cooper isn’t sloppy and always finishes out the play with maximum effort.
Excellent in run blocking, Cooper is also very good in pass protection. He gets level and maintains proper leverage, but he also has the upper body strength to hold up against defensive lineman. Speed won’t be a problem for him either because of his immense quickness and recovery speed. Possessing fluid hips, Cooper can swing from side-to-side and take on multiple defenders and delayed blitzes. Stamina is not a concern here and Cooper holds up late in games and will be a difference maker down the stretch.
While his athleticism is his highest selling point, Cooper does display a mean streak and a physicality to his game. His strength is underrated and Cooper is no slouch in that department. 35 reps on the bench press at the NFL Combine really opened up some eyes to Cooper’s strength.
The All-American and All-ACC lineman has 47 career starts and is experienced as they come. Cooper also weathered the storm at UNC and stayed out of the scandals that took place there during his college career. He’s a clean prospect with no off-the-field baggage and is a high character individual.
Much like Warmack, it’s very difficult to find bad tape on Cooper. He doesn’t possess elite size or arm length, but his athleticism allows him to overcome that. There are some minor durability concerns and Cooper did have surgery on his injured shoulder. Upper body strength isn’t a problem for Cooper, but he does need to improve his overall strength and develop more lower body strength. Time in the weight room and activity in the strength and conditioning program could help him improve in that area.