UNC alumni, Jonathon Cooper, made a strong performance at this year’s NFL combine. Since the turn of the century, no Guard has been chosen below 17th in the draft. This year, Jonathon could be the first. Where will he go?
First, let’s put this in perspective. Cooper came into the combine as an interesting player scouts had their eyes on. He left it today with them knowing he was a force to be reckoned with. The 6’2’’, 311-pound NC native actually finished first out of all linemen in the bench press. He blasted a staggering 35 reps of 250, one less than the record. Cooper was also excruciatingly close to having a sub five-second 40. He finished with a time of 5.07 seconds. He’s a freight train that moves, and scouts took notice.
Between Cooper and Alabama’s Chance Warmack, there is a wide gap to the next picked offensive guard in the draft. They’re that good. It’s important to note that Warmack has a slight edge over Cooper but not by much at all. Cooper had the most to prove—and he did.
So, where’s the former Tar Heel destined to end up? It all depends on which teams need what. Many experts are placing Cooper in Jerry Richardson land, AKA, Dallas Texas. It makes sense. Their offensive line interior was atrocious last season. I’m no Tony Romo fan, but they made him look like his cleats were permanently set on ‘run-for-you-life’. No team can win that way. The offensive line is the football team’s cement foundation. Nothing else matters if that is crumbling.
Cooper may end up elsewhere, like in Arizona or Tennessee if Chance Warrick goes earlier than expected. If Dallas goes with a Defensive Tackle to solidify the middle of their newly adopted 4-3 “Tampa Two” defense, look for Indianapolis to snatch Cooper and buy a lottery ticket at the 7-Eleven immediately after. They’d love for UNC’s big man up front to protect neck-bearded, pro bowl-esque franchise quarterback in Andrew Luck. Cooper will certainly add stability to whatever team he goes to. I look for Dallas to pick him up, but if they don’t, he shouldn’t fall below a top-25 pick.