Nov 10, 2012; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels guard Jonathan Cooper (64) on the field in the first half at Kenan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Every week, Fansided’s fantastic crew does an NFL Mock Draft with the entire first round. That includes the Atlanta Falcons, who will have a first round pick here in 2013. You can find the first two picks (Brigham Young’s Ezekial Ansah and Alabama’s Jesse Williams), and I never particularly cared for either of those picks for the Falcons. Ansah made sense as the Falcons need help rushing the passer, but Williams really didn’t.
Well with the 2013 NFL Mock Draft: Week 15, I think Josh Sanchez hit the nail right on the head with the Falcons first pick. He has the Falcons selecting Jonathan Cooper, a guard from North Carolina, 32nd overall(!!). Here is what Sanchez said about this pick:
"The Falcons have major concerns at both guard positions. Adding a player like Cooper can help ease their worries."
Well, you said it Mr. Sanchez. It’s the pick that the Falcons really need, and if Cooper fell to them wherever they have a selection, I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to pull the trigger and grab him off the board. Cooper is good in run blocking, and even better in pass protection. He’s big, physical, can maul defensive linemen, and is a smart player. If that isn’t exactly what the Falcons need on the offensive line, I don’t know what it is.
Cooper is a good player. Like Sanchez stated, he could take over at either guard position. I think Justin Blalock’s job is safe at left guard since he just got a new contract in 2011, but he could shift to right guard with Cooper in the lineup. Unlikely, but just a thought. But having Cooper would allow 2012 rookie Peter Konz to take over the center position from veteran Todd McClure, and would provide a huge upgrade at guard over Konz. It would doubtless give the Falcons one of the better interior offensive lines in the NFL.
The only thing that I don’t like about this pick, is I’m not sure that Cooper will fall to the Falcons who will likely be drafting late in the 1st round. He’s easily the 2nd best guard in the draft, and according to Scouts Inc., he has a grade above 90. He’s quite a player. I wouldn’t be surprised if he came off the board. One reason I think he could slip, however, is because he plays guard. It’s not a super high-profile position, and isn’t in really high demand. Positions like quarterback, left tackle, defensive end, wide receiver, and defensive tackle are probably going to be first round picks. The exceptions will probably be Chance Warmack from Alabama, and Cooper. I don’t know that many teams are dying to spend a first round pick on an offensive guard, but I know the Falcons are one of those teams. If they can select him, they probably will.