2013 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Sylvester Williams
Elite speed, mobility, athleticism
Great pass protector
Mirrors speed rushers with ease
Strong base to anchor against bull rushes
Extremely well built
Superb run blocker
Lethal on the second level
Tremendous at pulling
Hits blocks on the run
Great technique with hand placement
Textbook knee bend
Could move to center
Has the ability to play in the box
Excellent in short yardage
Should be able to start immediately
Good at adjusting to blitz pick-up
Prototype guard for zone-blocking system
High ceiling and floor
A little shorter than teams prefer
Summary: The offensive line is one of the strengths of the 2013 NFL Draft class, and Jonathan Cooper is one of the top offensive line prospects. It is rare for a guard to grade out as a potential top-20 pick, but Cooper has a shot of going in that range.
Over the past few seasons, Cooper has been a dominant blocker in the ACC. Cooper was a great run blocker for running back Giovani Bernard. He received good preparation for the next level taking on the likes of Sylvester Williams and Quinton Coples in practice. Coples was a first-rounder last year, and Williams could go in Round 1 this April.
Cooper is a rare athlete. He is extremely fast and agile for an interior offensive lineman. He is lightning fast firing out of his stance and gets on defenders before they are ready. Cooper uses his speed to win at the second level. He is extremely skilled at hitting blocks in space due to how fast and athletic he is. Cooper could be one of the fastest interior linemen in the NFL.
Cooper was a great pass blocker in college, and that could be his biggest strength in the NFL. Speed rushers are nullified by Cooper. He has a strong lower body with the ability to anchor against bull rushes. His pad level is superb to keep rushers from gaining any leverage. Cooper also has surprising strength and can pack a punch. He is awesome at pulling. He is so fast looping around to hit blocks on defenders. He seems to catch them by surprise with how quickly he moves to the next level. There is no doubt he'll execute pulling well in the NFL.
Cooper is a perfect fit in a zone-blocking scheme. He is so fast and athletic, he could play center or guard for a zone team. He also has the strength to win in a power-man scheme, so Cooper will appeal to coaches from all offensive systems.
Cooper looks like an instant starter and a future Pro Bowl-caliber player.
Player Comparison: Randall McDaniel. I don't typically compare prospects to Hall of Famers, but Cooper is very similar to McDaniel. Both players are elite athletes who can negate speed rushes with ease. There was no way for defensive linemen to get by McDaniel, and Cooper was like that at North Carolina. In McDaniel's day, offensive linemen played lighter. He was around 6-foot-3 and 300 pounds. Cooper isn't far off from those measurements. It isn't fair to say Cooper will be as good as McDaniel, one of the best guards in NFL history, but Cooper's style of play is reminiscent of the Viking great.
NFL Matches: Tennessee, Miami, St. Louis, Dallas, New York Giants, Chicago
There are lot of teams in the top 20 that are candidates to take Cooper. Tennessee signed Andy Levitre in free agency to a big contract, but taking Cooper in the first round makes sense. With those two paving the way for Chris Johnson, the Titans would vastly improve a weak interior from 2012.
The Rams need to improve their guards and could consider drafting Cooper at pick Nos. 16 or 22. St. Louis could get a nice value by landing an elite guard in the middle of the first round. Cooper with Jake Long would really upgrade the St. Louis offensive line.
Dallas had a terrible interior offensive line in 2012 and have to improve their protection for Tony Romo. However, the Cowboys like strong, physical offensive linemen, and Chance Warmack is a better fit for their style.
The Giants also need some young talent on their offensive line. They need better run blocking and pass protection for Eli Manning. A blocker like Cooper would make a lot of sense for Big Blue, and they love players who possess elite athletic ability.
The same goes for the Bears. They could use improved guard play, and it was surprising they passed on David DeCastro a year ago. Cooper would make sense for Chicago. It would be a real surprise if the Bears pass on him.