The Arizona Cardinals’ first-round draft pick may not have been sexy, flashy, or popular, but it was the right one.
New Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians and GM Steve Keim drafted the best player available regardless of position, while making history at the same time. When the Cardinals were on the clock, many NFL analysts around the league predicted the Cardinals to draft an offensive lineman to bolster an extremely weak unit.
And why wouldn’t they? The Cardinals offensive line was absolutely horrible in 2012, leading the league in sacks allowed with 58. And although top tackle Levi Brown was out with an injury, there is never any excuse for giving up that many sacks.
No longer could the Cardinals ignore their most glaring weakness, and with their first-round pick (No. 7), they decided on G Jonathan Cooper, who played college football at North Carolina. This was a smart move by the new Cardinals brass, as Cooper was undoubtedly the most athletic gifted guard in this year’s draft.
He was a prospect that was quickly rising up draft boards and only solidified his high first-round grade with a strong showing at the NFL combine, where Cooper placed second among offensive lineman with a stellar 32 reps on the 225-pound bench press. In my draft grades given out to NFC West teams, I gave the Cardinals a well-deserved A for this selection.
While some Cardinals fans were hoping for a splashy addition, such as WR Tavon Austin, selecting Cooper will be most beneficial in the long run. I see him making multiple Pro Bowls over the next five years, and I see the 311-pound beast making a huge difference for an offensive line in desperate need of a difference-maker.