Jonathan Cooper Scouting Report: NFL Outlook for North Carolina OG
First Round: Seventh Pick
A four-year starter for the North Carolina Tar Heels, Jonathan Cooper enters this draft as one of the highest-ranked offensive linemen in the class. In fact, NFL draft analyst Mike Mayock has gone so far as to say that Cooper should be a realistic consideration for the Kansas City Chiefs to use the first overall pick on.
While simple position value will probably forbid that from happening, it goes to show how highly Cooper grades out on film as a technician. His lack of elite size and brutish strength likely won't make him a fit at guard for every team, but teams have shown interest in him at center as well.
+ Elite quickness and foot speed
+ Explosive out of his stance
+ Excellent at tracking defenders on the second level
- Will likely only appeal to zone-blocking teams
An incredible athlete for his position, Cooper has the quickest and lightest feet of any interior offensive lineman in this draft. He also possesses great hip flexibility, rarely allowing defensive linemen to get under him or to outleverage him.
Though he put up 35 reps up on the bench press at the combine (second amongst all offensive linemen), he’s not a player that overwhelms with strength at the point of attack.
Cooper has no known character or injury concerns of note. After redshirting in 2008, he went on to start four straight years at guard.
North Carolina had Cooper and the rest of its offensive linemen lose weight to play a more up-tempo, no-huddle scheme in 2012, and he should end up getting bigger and stronger once in an NFL strength and conditioning program.
The Tar Heels offense went out of its way to feature Cooper—their best offensive player—as a pulling guard. He has experience playing in both a two- and three-point stance.
Being a technically sound offensive lineman with quick feet usually bodes well for pass-blocking, and Cooper is no exception. He displays excellent mirror skills, sliding his feet and staying in front of his man with ease.
When not occupied with a defender, he will look to help out his teammates. He shows the ability to sink his hips and anchor in pass protection, resetting his pad level and rolling his hips through the block.
His lack of size will probably prevent him from ever being an elite drive-blocker, but Cooper shows excellent surge off the ball and constantly works his feet and hips to get position on his man. He also makes an effort to fire off lower and harder on the goal line in order to get vertical movement.
He’s incredibly tenacious from the backside and is very successful at reaching the man across from him on zone runs without even having to cut block. Cooper’s effort in the run game is impressive too; he never ball watches and often looks for a second target after completing his assignment.
Blocking In Space/ Recovery
Cooper’s ability to make blocks on the second level of the defense is second to none in this class. His light feet and great agility allow him to get out in front of runners with ease. Most importantly, though, Cooper is excellent at tracking moving targets. He shows an excellent understanding of angles, adjusting his path on the fly and often beating linebackers to their spot.
Not just limited to blocking in space in the run game, Cooper is also excellent at getting out in the open field for screen passes.
Cooper has quick, strong hands that he fires immediately off the snap. For a slightly undersized guard, his punch has quite a bit of pop to it, and he’s shown the capability of completely stoning college defensive linemen off the ball. Cooper also works hard to maintain good pad level and to never get outleveraged.
Cooper’s combination of elite foot speed and athleticism coupled with his lack of bulk will likely make him most coveted by zone-blocking teams. At the combine, Cooper partook in snapping drills, suggesting that NFL teams are also looking at him to play center.
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