At the start of each NFL league year, which always begins in early March, NFL teams (upper management) go into the offseason with one question in mind: “How can we improve upon or build upon (the product) from what we put on the field from the previous season?”
With that goal in mind, primarily there are three different ways an NFL franchise can improve their product from the previous season. One is through free agency. Two is by trading (players) with another franchise or three the annual NFL Draft.
For the sake of this argument, I was posed a question. That question was, “Which draft pick will make the biggest impact for the Arizona Cardinals?” To me the answer is very easy, and the answer is offensive guard Jonathan Cooper.
Without a doubt, there’s a huge reason why Cooper, was picked seventh by the Cardinals. As all die-hard Cardinal fans already know, it is to fill a huge and glaring need up front on the offensive line.
It has been a constant problem the Cardinals have had for years now. It’s been a problem that the previous regime (former general manager Rod Graves and company) did not seem to place a big priority on, (high) in the draft for one reason or another. However, that is another argument for another time.
It can also be argued that the Cardinals should have taken a left tackle rather than a guard this high in the draft. However, by the time the Cardinals had their pick at number seven, the three top-rated left tackles on the board were already scooped up by teams picking before them.
Furthermore, most general managers, scouts and pundits view picking a guard this high in the draft extremely rare (unusual), because most franchise do not view the guard position a position of value this high in the draft. Most believe they can get a quality guard much lower in the draft and many franchises think they can move an offensive tackle inside at guard if needed.
However, through the eyes of most scouts and draft experts, Cooper is a special breed. They believe he will one day (soon) be a perennial Pro Bowler at his position.
Like I have heard many times from general managers over the years, such as what former GM Charley Casserly (now with the NFL Network) stated, “If you think a player can be a perennial Pro Bowler you need to take him, regardless of the position.”
So yes to me this is an extremely easy question to answer. Most pundits or draft experts have said the Cardinals had a wonderful draft from top to bottom, and each draft pick could very well prove to be valuable for the Redbirds.
However, how can you deny Cooper’s impact up front on the offensive line? He was not only the first pick for the Cardinals in this year’s NFL draft, but at the biggest position of need, up front on the offensive line with the potential to be a perennial Pro Bowler. Lets just hope that all the projections about Cooper are accurate and he lives up to those lofty expectations.