As we continue to look at players who improved their stock at the NFL Scouting Combine, the next that comes to mind is Jonathan Cooper. Cooper was already a first-round pick, but some teams have reportedly moved him above Chance Warmack as the #1 guard in the class. That’s high praise. Let’s see how Cooper rates out.
OG Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina
Cooper is an almost prototypical zone-blocking guard, though he should also have success on a team that uses man principles. He stands at only 6’2″, 311 lbs., which would preclude him from playing offensive tackle. Cooper may be able to add a bit of strength, however. But his height actually helps his already great knee bend, which he pairs with exceptional knowledge of leverage. He is a sound technician.
Cooper’s biggest plus has always been his agility, and that was solidified at the Combine, especially in the drills. He snapped the ball a bit to show off his positional versatility, and also did well in the major measurables, posting a 5.07 40-yard dash, and getting 35 reps on the bench. But the tape also lends itself to Cooper, where you can see his athleticism and quickness on display. He moves very smoothly, and rarely do you see an offensive line get to the second level as consistently and easily as the Tar Heel.
Cooper has a very strong initial punch as well, but he should attempt to add some raw power. He doesn’t grade out as an exceptional pass blocker, because his strength isn’t his forte, and he can occasionally be mauled. He did weigh in a bit larger at the Combine than expected, and the reps were a bit of a surprise, so maybe he’s already working on that strength. The four-year starter didn’t take anyone out of plays because of his power. His other weakness is that he can occasionally slip blocks, but this isn’t a deal-breaker by any means.
Cooper is a standout talent in a class that lacks elite positional prospects. While he’s certainly a first-round talent for a man-blocking team, he’s a player that a ZBS team in need of a guard should draft without hesitation. If Cooper falls to the #16 spot, and I were a team like the Green Bay Packers, I would trade in front of the Steelers to draft him.