The Arizona Cardinals have selected North Carolina OG Jonathan Cooper with the seventh overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft.
Pros: Amazingly quick, agile athlete for his size. Sets up in his pass pro like a tackle -- comes up from excellent leverage, establishes a side base, gets a good kick-step going, and stones defenders with an outstanding hand-strike. Pulls with impressive speed and agility from left guard all the way around to seal the right edge, and has the ability to read, stop, and block along the way. Also pulls with great speed and agility from left guard outside left tackle and into space upfield. Tremendous lateral agility and power allows him to excel in slide and zone slide protection. Gets upfield to linebacker depth in a hurry, but with leverage and power, to beat defenders downfield.
Cons: Inaccurate with cut blocks, especially in space -- tends to lunge instead of targeting and will whiff as a result. Played at under 300 pounds at times and may struggle to maintain weight if he's in a high-volume offense similar to the one he was in before. Gets rocked back at times if he comes off the snap too high, but adjusts and re-sets on the fly. Underwent shoulder surgery before the 2012 season to relieve chronic inflammation.
What he brings to the team: Cooper is a very physical blocker, and the only reason that fact gets second billing is because he's so very athletic. At 6-foot-2 and playing anywhere from 290 to 310 pounds, Cooper comes into the NFL as athletically gifted as any guard currently playing in the pros. It's why he's gaining momentum among the analysts are studying him, and it's also why some seem to believe that he might be able to switch to center at the next level.
"I’d say I’m a combination of power and athleticism," he said at the scouting combine. "I can, especially with the addition of weight, I can run power. You can look at it from my first three years of film where we’re a pro-style offense where power was our staple play. And then this year it really showed my athletic ability, getting out in space. We ran a bunch of screens and a lot of things where I was on the second and third level getting on linebackers and defensive backs and such."
The tape proves every one of Cooper's points -- he's set to be a franchise player from day one.
Was it the right pick? Absolutely. Carson Palmer will need help with pressure up the middle, and Cooper can do everything required of him in any offensive system.