A former top ten pick, guard Jonathan Cooper’s career has been derailed by injuries. But the Dallas Cowboys have given him an opportunity for redemption.
Going into the 2013 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys needed to bolster their offensive line. Picking in the middle of the first round, they had their eyes set on a highly-touted guard out of North Carolina, named Jonathan Cooper.
Cooper was the top ranked guard in his class. He possessed quick feet, was very mobile, and had the versatility to play in different schemes. Scouts in Dallas believed he could be another star on their rebuilding offensive line.
On draft night, Cooper was taken 7th overall by the Arizona Cardinals. The Cowboys had to move on and eventually selected some guy named Travis Frederick.
From there it was all downhill for Cooper. In the third preseason game of his rookie season he broke his left fibula and was placed on IR. In 2014, he didn’t start until Week 14, as he was recovering from the fibula, battling turf toe, and a knee injury. Finally, In Week 10 of the 2015 season, Cooper injured his knee again, missing the remainder of the season.
In the 2016 offseason, the Cardinals traded Cooper to the New England Patriots, as a part of the Chandler Jones trade. As you might guess, he injured his foot yet again and fell down the depth chart. He was released in October, and claimed off waivers by the Cleveland Browns. Cooper started three games before being released again in December.
Moving forward with the Cowboys
In January, Cooper was signed by the Cowboys for added depth before the playoffs. Apparently, his stint in Dallas left an impression on him.
"“I felt like just being surrounded by a group of guys who are willing to help you and a coaching staff who is looking to push you and help you improve, you couldn’t really beat that,” Cooper told the team’s official website."
This offseason Cooper re-signed with the Cowboys on a one-year deal. Through OTA’s and minicamp, he’s been getting reps at left guard and has a solid chance to start this season.
With Cooper the problem is obviously durability, but he still has all of the talent that made him a top ten pick. To win the starting job, he’ll have to beat out Chaz Green and Joe Looney, and prove to the coaching staff he can stay healthy.
The advantages Cooper has on Green and Looney are his mobility and quickness. Dallas likes to pull their guards and use a zone blocking scheme, which makes these qualities a necessity. If (and its a big if) Cooper can stay on the field, he should be the starting left guard going into 2017.
All things considered, Jonathan Cooper is one of the five most talented offensive linemen on the Dallas Cowboys roster. While there are concerns about his durability, he should end up starting this season. Hopefully, Cooper makes the most of this opportunity and revives his career in Dallas.