+Plays with a block on his shoulder
+Elite athleticism for guard
+Great pass blocker
+Great run blocker
+Good on field awareness, especially as a run blocker
+Gets phenomenal leverage
+Unbelievably good with guard traps and pulls
+Uses ideal fundamentals
+Gets a good initial punch
-Guards are less important than tackles? Does that count as a negative?
A beast is defined in the Urban Dictionary as “When referring to a person, beast status is achieved when the aforementioned person is so good at a certain skill that they have exceeded human comprehension, thus making them non-human.” Jonathan Cooper matches this description with regard to his ability to play football. But The Free Dictionary defines beast as “an animal, especially a large or dangerous four-footed one.” Jonathan Cooper is a beast by both definitions. He is a bear wearing football pads. A truly spectacular football player.
Cooper has good measurables. He’s a bit short at 6’2, he has solid bulk at 311lbs, and very good speed for a guard with a 5.07 40 yard dash at the combine. I might as well say now, the reason why he isn’t a tackle at the next level is because he has very short arms (33 inches flat, a bit short even for a guard) and players with long arms will be able to control his hands at the NFL level. So guard is pretty much a lock. Beyond that, he has large hands and showed very good strength at the combine, doing 35 bench reps at 225lbs, good for second among all offensive linemen.
Cooper is a terrific run blocker. First off, some people don’t realize just how hard he plays. By all accounts, he’s tough, he never takes a play off, and he plays to the end of the whistle, but many players match that description. Jonathan Cooper is vicious. His on field intensity is absolutely ridiculous. I have so much respect for the way he plays the game. If you watch North Carolina film, every once and a while, you’ll see number 64 running upfield like a tight end following his running back and making some great blocks downfield. Seeing him hustling 20 or 30 yards past the line of scrimmage is always fun, even if you don’t get to see it that often. In addition, it’s tough for me to make a comparison for Cooper because I have never seen a guard as brilliant as Cooper when it comes to guard traps and pulls. He’s got the agility of an above average NFL left tackle, his body control is absolutely remarkable, he gets a great initial punch, his on field awareness as a run blocker is amazing, he takes ideal angles to the ball, and he’s very quick. He does absolutely nothing wrong on guard traps and pulls and would be an excellent fit in a zone blocking scheme. Beyond that, as a run blocker, he is very strong and gets extremely good leverage. He’s a fighter that really knows how to sustain blocks and is incredible when engaging in blocks. His fundamentals and hand placement are also excellent. If I had to think of a problem with his run blocking, it’s that he doesn’t have the widest frame and will occasionally allow opponents to make an arm tackle in heavy traffic. Still, a great run blocker.
Cooper is a phenomenal pass blocker. He has terrific athleticism and he uses very good technique in pass protection. His strength is very good and he gets ideal leverage. His quickness is elite for a guard and he plays very hard. He’s definitely the kind of guy I would trust to block Geno Atkins, because he is one of very few interior linemen who can match Atkins’ quickness as well as maintain very good, consistent leverage against him. On the downside, his on field awareness is not as good as a pass blocker as it is a run blocker, though still above average. Every once and a while, he doesn’t have his head on a swivel as a pass blocker, and he struggles to react to defensive line stunts, sometimes looking out of sync when passing his man off to a teammate. However, his athleticism, technique, and leverage still make him a really good pass blocker.
This is the greatest guard class I’ve ever seen. Given that this is only the 4th draft class I’ve ever scouted, that’s not really saying much, but I’ve never scouted guards as good as Chance Warmack and Cooper. 2 future Pro Bowlers undoubtedly, unless the NFL gets rid of the Pro Bowl.
NFL Comparison: Jahri Evans with more a bit more strength, but a bit less length.
Grade: 99 (worthy of a top 3 pick, in large part because this is a weak draft class)
Projection: 97 (will be a top 10 pick)