Apr. 26, 2013; Tempe, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals offensive guard Jonathan Cooper poses for a photo during a press conference at the Cardinals Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
With the seventh pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, the Arizona Cardinals, a team in desperate need of a revamped offensive line, addressed their biggest need by taking Jonathan Cooper.
Cooper, who weighs 311 pounds and is 6’2″, dominated at North Carolina. He was second among offensive lineman with 35 reps on the 225-pound bench press, meaning he has the strength to take on some of the strongest interior lineman in the NFL. Cooper also ran a respectable 5.07 40-yard dash, which is very good for a big offensive lineman.
Arizona’s first-round draft pick has the physical tools to be a dominant offensive lineman. He was a first-team All-American in 2012 and held the same position on the All-ACC team, in addition to winning the ACC Jacobs Blocking Trophy (recognizing him as the best lineman in the ACC). While there are lineman who can run a better 40-yard dash and beat his 27″ vertical leap, there aren’t many better overall lineman.
Cooper wrestled in high school, which is good for hand placement and one-on-one blocking situations. He started all 26 games in 2011 in 2012, with 25 of those starts coming at left guard. Cooper has experience blocking and has racked up numerous achievements during his career. In addition to his remarkable college accomplishments, Cooper was voted Player of the Year by his high school football conference.
He will be helping out a needy offensive line immediately. The Cardinals surrendered a horrific 58 sacks in 2012, which is unacceptable. If Carson Palmer, Arizona’s new quarterback, receives ample protection, he’ll have time to get the ball downfield to Larry Fitzgerald and other playmakers. Cooper’s job is going to be allowing Palmer to make those plays, which he should do a good job of doing.
In 2012, Cooper didn’t allow a single sack, and his blocking consistency rating was higher than 90 percent in 10 games; no one else in all of college football had a 90 percent blocking consistency rating in more than seven games. Cooper, who started 48 games in college, is a durable, consistent lineman who will benefit the Cardinals greatly.
Arizona needed to address the offensive line, and that’s exactly what it did with this selection. The Cardinals filled a huge hole and added a difference-maker at a position of need, which was their main goal entering the draft. For this selection, the Cardinals earn a well-deserved A.
Stay tuned for more player profiles on Raising Zona. Tomorrow, Kevin Minter, Arizona’s second-round pick, will be analyzed.