Report: Steelers Have Already Met With North Carolina G Jonathan Cooper At The Combine

During the NFL combine teams allowed to meet with 60 players over the course of the week for 15 minutes. Jim Wexell of Steel City Insiders reported via Twitter on Thursday that the Pittsburgh Steelers have already met with North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper, who is considered by many to be the second ranked guard in the draft this year.

Cooper was a consensus All-America selection and Outland Trophy finalist in 2012. He is very coordinated and athletic, and thus a perfect pulling and zone-blocking scheme prospect. He measured in at the combine at 6021, 311 and has 33 inch arms.

“I\’ve been coaching 26 years now, and I\’ve not had an interior lineman with his athletic ability, North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora said about Cooper back in October. “So he\’s pretty special.”

The left guard had 47 starts in college and is as durable as they come. Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert has said several times that he is not opposed to drafting any position in any round, so Cooper certainly could be a candidate for the Steelers draft in round one, especially if they get an offer that they cant refuse to move down.

As I pointed out recently, guards normally don\’t get much respect in the top half of round one, so there is a chance that both Cooper and Alabama guard Chance Warmack could be on the board when the Steelers pick 17th overall.

Should the Steelers draft an offensive lineman in the first two rounds that would make five that the team has drafted that early in the last four drafts.

“I\’ve been coaching a long time,” said Fedora. “I\’ve coached some offensive linemen that have been drafted in the top five or six in the country and Jonathan has some skills at the offensive guard position unlike any others that I\’ve ever coached. He has tremendous feet. He has feet like a tight end, a very skilled tight end. There are quite a few tight ends out there that don\’t have the feet that Jonathan has. He\’s big and he\’s very intelligent and he understands what you\’re trying to do, and he\’s good at what he does.”

  • Bob Francis

    Cooper is one of the players (among others) I’d be thrilled to see fall to the Steelers. Mike Mayock thinks he’s one of the top 4 players in the whole draft. Barring injury, you’d have your starting 5 linemen for years to come.

  • zyzak

    So many good players so few picks

  • SteelSpine

    I agree. I think we have more high needs than we have high picks.

  • SteelSpine

    A different draft guru (former NFL scout Mosely who reports about NFL) also raved about Cooper’s feet, but gave interesting comparison of Cooper vs Warmack (in radio interview). The question to him was just, since Warmack’s rated so high, how does Warmack compare to DeCastro. He replied:

    – In this draft the guard similar to DeCastro is not Warmack, it is Cooper.
    – He said “if your blocking is mostly the old-fashioned straight ahead, Warmack is the one to draft, “but if you do zone blocking, Cooper is the one to take”.
    – He said Warmack did & can get out some, & he said Warmack is nastier than Cooper/DeCastro, & Warmack is so-ready “Warmack is the best player in this draft”. (We know guards don’t get drafted high tho).
    – He said for playing in space or zone blocking, Cooper is superior to Warmack.
    – He raved about Cooper’s ability to get out on 2nd level (downfield). But that’s similar to the interviewees said in this article DaveB made.
    – Another thing he said “stands out” about Cooper is “Cooper’s versatility”, but I don’t recall why he said that. Cooper’s only 6’2 so maybe he meant center? (Unless he meant the guy would make a good fullback, heheh.)

  • westernsteel

    true…..but many more needs than OL

  • LucasY59

    I think this shows that the Steelers may be looking to trade back (and they are very serious about building one of the best O-lines in the NFL) some would be upset if the Steelers pick Warmack at 17 and I don’t think they would choose Cooper over Warmack if they are both available (I’m guessing the hate mail for Colbert could fill Heinz field if they did) Cooper looks to be a good fit with the new O-line coach, and it makes sense that they are interested. I just hope that they are looking at him as a potential pick later in the 1st rd or if they get a earlier 2nd (would be very suprised if Cooper is available when the Steelers pick in the 2nd) I know it is unlikley they trade back in the 1st, but if they do and a player like Cooper, Ertz or Eifert or some other 1st rd prospect slides within 5-10 picks of the 18th pick in the 2nd rd it could be worth it to trade up and get that player, especially if they have extra picks from trading back in the 1st

  • Douglas Andrews

    North Carolina has some good skill position players we need a feature runner

  • HarryBackside

    Depends on what a team is looking for. A lot of the draft experts have Cooper almost neck in neck with Warmack. Kiper has Cooper drafted ahead of Warmack in his mock, and when Mike Mayock was discussing who the Chiefs should draft with the first pick, both Warmack and Cooper’s names came up. That may be a little far fetched, but it gives you an idea of what kind of prospect Cooper is.

    If the Steelers plan on committing to a zone blocking scheme, they may have Cooper ahead of Warmack too. You don’t see many guards who can move like that. Cooper may be more athletic than Pouncey.

  • HarryBackside

    Not if the Steelers part ways with Willie Colon. Anything that improves the run game should be considered a priority. I’ve never heard Rooney 2 say that the pass rush needs to get better, but on more than one occasion I’ve heard him say that the Steelers need to get better at running the ball. It might be worth Colbert and Tomlin’s time to listen.

  • mokhkw

    I saw Warmack on Total Access this week and was surprised with how well put together he is. Standing next to ex-Giants OG Shaun O’Hara he looked more like a TE than an OG. I don’t mean that in a bad way – he’s got the frame to add the pounds – I was just surprised with how well proportioned he is. It will be interesting watching the Combine on Saturday & seeing how these 2 measure up.

  • WilliamSekinger

    Trade down, still select the second best guard in the draft (4th best overall some would argue) and pick up and extra pick in the process – I would not complain at all if they went this route.

  • Agreed and with an Oline like that, they could make an average RB look like an All Pro.

  • Kyle Owens

    Trading down is easier said than done.

  • rjIII

    Came for the Jonathan Cooper highlights, stayed for the Giovani Bernard Highlights. seriously though id be happy with cooper in the first

  • LucasY59

    I agree if rating them just on athletic ability and mobility Cooper has the edge (and that may be what the Steelers are looking for) I’m mainly saying that I don’t think the 17th pick is the best place to take an OG. The earliest a G has been selected in the last 12 years is 16th (most years no earlier than the mid to late 20’s) If they trade back in the 1st, I would be ok with them taking Cooper. If they build a dominant O-line it helps fix both the Running and Passing game, It also helps with time of possesion which helps the D

  • RMSteeler

    Cooper threw up 35 reps on the bench Friday. Priced himself into the 1st round possibly with that along with his tape. Just don’t see the Steelers taking him in the first, unless they they think it’s worth it for him to work with Mike Adams in the weight room 🙂