Will Chance Warmack & Jonathan Cooper Buck 30 Years Of Draft History?

On Tuesday, Bucky Brooks of NFL.com identified his elite, blue- and red-chip prospects in the 2013 NFL class, based on film study and several conversations with scouts and coaches around the league, and of the five elite prospects that he listed, four are offensive linemen.

Without even looking at the list you probably can guess that those four offensive linemen are Central Michigan tackle Eric Fisher, Texas A&M tackle Luke Joeckel, Alabama guard Chance Warmack and North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper.

I don\’t think that anyone doubts that Fisher and Joeckel, both left tackles, will be off the board in the first ten picks. That leaves Warmack and Cooper, both guards as the two remaining elite linemen listed by Brooks.

I have dedicated a few post this offseason to both Warmack and Cooper, and how guards are usually crapped on in the top half of the draft every year. However, based on the quality of first round draft prospects this year, it is not out of the question that one guard gets selected in the top half of the first round.

So what are the chances that both Warmack and Cooper are off the board by the time the Pittsburgh Steelers pick rolls around?

According to my research, the 1983 draft was the last time that two guards were drafted within the first 16 picks. Those two guards were Chris Hinton and Bruce Matthews. I actually thought it might have been since 1988, but deep research revealed that the New York Jets drafted Dave Cadigan to be a left tackle, and not a guard, like it is listed on Pro Football Reference.

So, will Warmack and Cooper buck 30 years of draft history in less than two weeks?

I hate to keep beating the same dead horse, but the Steelers have yet to address their lack of depth on their offensive line this offseason. Sure, they re-signed Ramon Foster, but his position flexibility and terms of his deal in no way indicate that he is more of a short term fix. Even if he is penciled in to be starting left guard right now, who is behind him, guard David DeCastro and center Maurkice Pouncey?

Yes, Kelvin Beachum has position flexibility, and there has been talk about him learning the center position, but the former SMU left tackle only saw snaps at right tackle last season.

Doug Legursky? He remains unsigned, and besides, he hasn\’t ever excelled when asked to play either guard spot. John Malecki? I consider him to be Legursky-lite.

If either Warmack or Cooper are still on the board when the Steelers pick rolls around, I cant see them passing either up. Especially Cooper, who can play both guard spots as well as center.

Would a team be interested in trading up for either of those two players? I guess it is possible, but I can\’t remember the last time that team moved up in the first round to draft a guard.

So let\’s assume that the pick won\’t be traded, which direction would you go if either one of the two, or even both, are still on the board at 17? Are neither elite enough for you? Would you still go elsewhere? Would the Steelers?

  • Nolrog

    They have already spent two #1s and two #2s on the offesnive line and have not drafted a non-lineman at #1 coming up to 5 years now (and spent 6 of the top 8 picks on the lines during that time.). We need depth, yes, but depth doesn’t mean first round. We’ll get a guy in the middle of the draft and one at the end of the draft. We need skill positions and lots of them. There’s no way I’d draft either even if both were still there. Consider we’re going into the season without or top RB, our top TE and one of our top WRs. The pick will not be a lineman.

  • If both are there, I would take Cooper because of his obvious position flexibility and the fact he is stronger than most DT’s in the league. We would essentially be shoring up the interior of that line for years to come. Let’s face it, if we want to score more in the redzone, it starts up front. If they draft Cooper, he is a plug and play guy thus making Foster a solid back up for both guard spots and RT as well. A Cooper, Pouncey and Decastro interior is any Running Back’s dream come true. I love this guy.

  • $19122620

    This years draft is lacking top end elite players. For this reason Cooper and Warmack will be valued more and we should expect them to go earlier since they will be the best players available sooner then in most years.

    NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah, grades Alabama G Chance Warmack and UNC G Jonathan Cooper over David DeCastro from last year. So if a a few teams around the league feel this same way, then yes it is possible two guards be drafted in the top 16 picks.

    In addition, there are about six teams that have legitimate guard needs in the top 15 picks. In fact, they are all in the 7-12 range. So when Cooper and Warmack are the best players available come some of these picks (due to the lack of elite depth in this draft) why would they not pick them? Especially if it is a team need. This does not include teams that need a guard who could conceivably move ahead of the Steelers. There are about three teams drafting shortly after the Steelers who could conceivably move ahead of the Steelers. We should not be suprised if the later would happen. I mean while the Steelers ultimately didn’t, if I am not mistaken the Steelers were real close to moving up in last years draft to land the top guard in the draft. If teams value Cooper or Warmack as much as the word around the league suggest, then I would not be surprised to see a team move up, even if it is just a few spots, to land one of these guys.

  • Jason Brant

    If Warmack is there, I think the Steelers take him. BPA.

  • Cooper! Position flexibility, better mobility!

  • TheBlitz

    Cooper and Warmack will be off the board before the Steelers pick.

    There is a clear lack of “elite” type prospect in this draft class and those two guards are among the few safest 1st round pick this year. They have the college production, and athleticism to back it up. They also appear to be “clean-cut” guys without all the red flags on and off the field.

    If one of them is still on the board, it depends on who else on the defensive side of the ball is still available. For instance, I would rather have Jarvis Jones, Dee Milliner or Star Lotulelei than either guards based on our needs and talent available.

    On the other hand, I will probably take one of the guard over a guy like: Mingo or Patterson, simply because they have more chance to turn into 1st round bust than Cooper or Warmack.

  • Maurice_hill_district

    Warmack. Most dominant thing at a big school in a long time. No knock on DeCastro but Warmack as a rookie wont get swatted to the side like happened to DD a couple times when DD played late last year. Foster is a right tackle thats Fosters best position too slow to pull at guard. Warmack can pull better than Foster. Adams hasnt shown ready to pass block for NFL yet.

  • Scott

    I understand the general premise of the article, but this team needs offense, so I can’t see them going after a guard in Rd 1. I’d rather look for backfill later in the draft. You spent #1 & #2 on OL last year.

  • Kenneth Wilt

    The guy I have been wanting is Eifert. I don’t know why, but I just have a good feel about him and fitting into this offense, even when Miller is brought back.

  • mokhkw

    Recent rule changes about not being able to do like Yanda does to the back of the DL’s legs means that athletic Guards who can legally zone block on stretch plays will be more sought after than they have been previously. It’s likely that we’ll also see so called “legal cut-blocks” outlawed in the near future (dumbest rule ever introduced imo)

    That’s one reason why Warmack & Cooper are rated as high as they are. Generally both are rated higher than DeCastro was last year by scouts.

    Although I haven’t heard it discussed, I would have to think that Cooper could project to LT with his skill set.

    What’s the story with Antoine Caldwell of the Texans? The Steelers have had him in for a visit lately and they did the same thing with him 1 or 2 years ago so they obviously like him. If he signs then that would take care of the G & C depth but will that happen before the Draft?

    Would I take either of them at No.17? Yes, but that also depends on who else is on the board at the time.

    I would take Cooper & seriously consider him at LT, if not immediately then in the near future. In that scenario I would move DeCastro to LG and sort out RG & RT between Gilbert, Adams & Foster ( & Caldwell if he was signed).

  • Eric MacLaurin

    I think Guards could fall further than normal because of the new cap that seems to encourage the drafting of the most expensive players soonest. Of course the idea of a top 5 player at 17 is a prayer either way.

    I really like Cooper and the idea that we can ignore the Oline for 5 years. Foster as the 6th lineman is pretty comforting too. I would use some picks in the 4th and below next year to move up a little bit too since we are getting a bunch of comp picks and our need for bodies should be much greater this year.

    We can’t use such a high pick (for us) on a good or solid player. I think the commitment needs to be to a player that draws a double team.

  • mokhkw

    Steelers like combo TE’s, so if they were to target one, the best available would be Travis Kelce from Cincinnati.

  • Eric MacLaurin

    I don’t think I agree if I know what you mean by combo. Kelce might be a better blocker but do you want the better blocker if they are both at least reasonably good blockers?

  • steeltown

    Agreed. Cooper would be the pick.. and is more likely as well, because I see Warmack being selected before him. Then, as you said, Foster would be great depth at LG and RG and also would most likely end up playing RT, when/if Gilbert or Adams goes down

    Plus the fact that most of the Safety and WR prospects are 2nd and 3rd Rd grade, it makes sense

  • Tom Yun

    Even though the Steelers have drafted a lot of OLineman lately it is still a glaring weakness on the team. The only lineman currently on the team that have any job security are Pouncey, Marcus Gilbert, and a healthy DeCastro. Let’s not forget the Steelers stank running the ball last year and let’s not even talk about pass protection. I think a tackle would be a better option unfortunately there are none worthy of the Steelers draft position. Getting a tackle, the team could move Mike Adams to guard since he’s about the worst pass protector I can recall seeing in a while.

  • steeltown

    Yes, I like Eifert or Cooper at #17… and of course, to the dismay of alot of Steeler Nation they might really consider Jarvis Jones if he falls as well

  • steeltown

    I agree, besides we have Spaeth signed for a few yrs, people forget that Spaeth has been near the top of the League in run blocking over the yrs.

    Miller, Eifert and Spaeth would be a great TE depth chart… then add Will Johnson as FB/TE, I like the talent there

    But, I wouldnt mind selecting Kelce either, if Eifert goes elsewhere

  • mokhkw

    Combo=Tight End who can block & catch. It’s a dumb phrase imo as I expect a TE to block anyway, but if you look at the TEs who generally get selected earlier in the Drafts they’re more like H-Backs or oversized WRs that a traditional TE.

    It’s not so much what I prefer but what the Steelers prefer in their TEs. They seem to prefer a guy who can be as big of an asset in the running game as they are in the passing game.

    Last 2 1st Rd TEs the Steelers have drafted were Bruener & Miller. Bruener was so good at blocking he played 14 seasons & once handled Reggie White 1-on-1 for the whole game and didn’t allow a sack.

    Kelce is the closest thing to Miller or Bruener in this draft imo. Draft Bios generally compare him to Brandon Pettigrew.

  • steeltown

    At first I was against drafting OLine in the 1st (again), but Cooper is an intriguing prospect and it would allow Foster to truly be the utility guy and maybe play OT when/if Gilbert goes down.

    With the way the Ravens have fortified their DL this offseason and the way the Bengals DL played last season (great) I woudnt mind having another TOP prospect on the OLine

  • hergieburbur

    Especially with the lack of other intriguing prospects, Cooper is looking better every day.

  • dgh57

    I agree but only kinda! The NFL Combine pushed Cooper up the draft boards and pushed Warmack down towards the 17th pick. Plus, Cooper has position flexibility which pushes him higher also! So I think if either one of them is still there at 17 it will be Warmack. I hope I’m wrong and somehow Cooper slides down to us but I’m not too optimistic of that happening.

  • Jefferson_St_Joe

    The Steelers need playmakers. If they go offense, they need guys who score touchdowns. On defense, they need guys who get sacks and force turnovers.

    Now if a guard who is a top 5 player falls to 17, I’d probably take him. I’d then spend the rest of the draft shooting for more of the high reward/high risk types at the skill positions and LB.

  • Chris Ranieri

    I’m not sure if we can afford high risk types in our secondary, with Clark and Polamalu’s imminent departure we’ll be needing to replace them quite soon and can’t afford a bust. Now with LB we might be able to take more of that approach but still that’s always risky.

  • Jonathon Bert Schade

    It seems to me that the OL can wait a bit if, that is, we think the starters are set and are looking for supporting roles. My hope is the Rams, Vikings or nearly anyone else would covet the 17th selection enough to give up some decent value for it. I don’t think either Warmack or Cooper will be around anyway, but what about Eifert a few slots down? Then seriously upgrade WR and DB as well. I think we need a new corner and SS. There are no LBs worth a high pick IMO and I think any RB we need could be had as a FA.

  • steeltown

    You might be right

  • steeltown

    Shamarko Thomas… pleeeeassse

  • Luke Shabro

    I can agree with almost everything you said. My only argument is that offensive skill player, high upside defensive backs and pretty much any defensive pass rushers (DE/OLB/penetrating DT) get pushed up on draft boards because of the way the game has/is evolving. Plus Warmack and Cooper are probably better overall players than Lane Johnson but I guarantee Johnson gets drafter higher because he is seen as a possible blindside protector. It’s just the nature of the draft. DeCastro, in my opinion, was a better pick than Brandon Weeden, Melvin Ingram, Riley Reiff, Dontari Poe, Shea McClellin and probably Bruce Irvin as well but he slipped to the Steelers because guards are just undervalued. I’m really torn on the pick this year. I wished this was one of the years we were picking in the mid to late 20’s because its a great year for it. I’d probably be happy with them taking Cooper, Eifert, Keenan Allen or Vaccaro. I pray that they don’t take Patterson or Jarvis Jones. Way too much boom or bust there and we need more sure things, not that there is such a thing.

  • Luke Shabro

    Please God no Jarvis Jones!! I’d take Cooper, Eifert, Vaccaro or even Keenan Allen

  • Chris Ranieri

    Shawn Williams will fly under the radar….wonder what round he’ll be taken in..

  • David Edward

    Pretty good comments so far. I actually think both Gs will go before 17. In making my draft board for Steelers, I put Cooper at the top because he’s a pro-ready, good fit at LG for Steelers. I see him as a Pouncey type..athletic interior OL who can play all three spots. I think he will go ahead of Warmack, but if Cooper’s still there, I don’t think there’s another guy you can take ahead of him. If one of the two were to fall, I think it could be Warmack because he’s less athletic than Cooper and not necessarily a C candidate (although in time he probably can do it). If he’s there @ 17, I would probably take him, but it depends on who else is there.

  • steeltown

    Agreed, though im not to big on K.Allen 17th overall

  • Luke Shabro

    3rd maybe? I think there’ll be a run on corners, running backs, receivers and interior D linemen in the second round. Any safety that isn’t Vaccaro, Reid, Elam or Cyprien (all gone by the first 5-10 picks of the second round) will fall to the third… I think. Somebody always reaches and throws the whole thing out of whack

  • Fivesevenzero Sports-Radio

    Didn’t K.Allen fail a drug test….u can bet he’s off our board

  • steeltown

    I do like Williams as well… very strong, fast kid

  • steeltown

    I think you’re right.. S.Thomas, P.Thomas and Williams will most likely fall to the 3rd Rd

  • hergieburbur

    He did, and he likely is.

  • I wouldn’t count on those comp picks until we get them. Guys get hurt, maybe someone we’ve never heard of rises up and takes their job, maybe they just plain suck in their new system.

  • Paul

    Totally agree, but believe me, the Steelers would definitely take another O-Lineman if he was available. They do it every year. Makes me absolutely sick to see how our CB’s and Safeties are getting old, yet we attack the draft with below average D-Lineman. Pitiful. Given the fact that they NEVER address anything in free agency, this is definitely unacceptable!

  • reg38

    Cooper is 6’2″ not LT size.

  • Pete

    I completely agree that the G position is traditionally undervalued in the draft. Rightly or wrongly, teams see other positions as more important than G in the first 16 positions. A month ago, I went back several years and couldn’t find a G who went before #17 to check on a previous post you made on this topic. I had no idea it went back to 1983!

    This year I see no difference other than instead of going #24 or #32 (or none in the 1st), someone may go as soon as #17. If both Warmack and Cooper are available at 17, I think I’d probably go with Warmack since he’s said to be the best athlete in the draft (Mayock?). I don’t think I could go wrong with Cooper either. This would give the Steelers the potential of being one of the finest offensive lines in football. At least for a few years because I don’t think they’d be able to keep the line together long-term due to the cost of all the studs.

  • Chris Ranieri

    Williams can lay the wood. I’ve grown up watching him and I can tell you first hand he plays like a young R Clark. Loves contact. B Rambo on the other hand is better in coverage, but still good in the open field.

  • $19122620

    Yeah, you’re right, the more coveted positions certainly come off the board earlier. This year there are fewer of those players at those respective positions. Therefore some of those players at those positions will seem more like reaches this year than compared to years past. For this reason I suspect teams will opt to go after one of the drafts top guards instead of settle for one of the players at one of those coveted positions that just doesn’t warrant coming off the board at that time. Especially since the consensus seems to be that one of Cooper or Warmack, or both, are the best guard prospects since Steve Hutchinson. To be fair, however, they said that about DeCastro last year too.

    The draft will be interesting for sure. I can’t wait. Glad it is right around the corner. Seemed like it would never get here.

  • dgh57

    I agree with you on Jarvis Jones! To many red flags for my liking! I’ll take “Nuke” Hopkins at the WR position. I’m okay with the other names you mention also.

  • SteelerDave

    We need Cooper to fall to 17 period. No brainer choice at that point.

  • Take Cooper at 17 – if available! One of the safest picks in the draft and day one starter IMO.

  • dgh57

    I totally agree!! I like this guy very much!! He hits like a LB(or should I say a Mack Truck)

  • Eric MacLaurin

    I’m not sure I share your take.

    The Steelers used to be a running team but they aren’t any more. They do need and insist that their tight ends block but I think the catching component is much more significant than it used to be.

    They didn’t bring Haley in to manage an offense with blocking tight ends.

    The team needs a tall person who can catch the ball. A first round offensive talent that fills that need and is also a pretty good blocker makes a dramatic difference that a primarily blocking tight end isn’t going to make.

    Kelce may be the better catcher for all I know but I would much rather see a first round tight end that is well rounded but a better receiver than blocker…as opposed to a really good blocker that can help out on the end zone jump ball but has no ability to separate.

    I’m also not so sure The Steeler TE’s over time haven’t been able to catch. I think the game plan has been to use them as blockers and not give them the opportunity.

  • mokhkw

    Yea, you’re right, I was forgetting his measurements when thinking about this lately.

    Thing is, he moves so damn well. I know Gilbert & Adams have the reach required for OT, but I can see Cooper actually being a better pass blocker with his quickness and superior athleticism.

  • Eric MacLaurin

    My concern with Jones is personal experience with stenosis and misc nerve channel narrowing that just doesn’t allow me to exercise because excessive movement/stimulation causes pain.

    I’m worried his lack of effort during workouts is related to an inability to work out and that he is no longer able to overcome this inability at the nest level. At least at a first round level for a half dozen years.

  • Pete

    I don’t see Cooper and Warmack as the best players available in this draft. DE, OT, DT, LB and WR are big needs as always. Most of the mocks on NFL Network have Warmack and Cooper going anywhere from 7-11. This ignores 30 years of drafts! If they go sooner than 17 it will be the first time in 30 years. That’s a trend that’s tough to ignore especially when neither of these guys will be drafted to play T. I’m not saying that the trend cannot be broken. But if I was betting, I’d bet with the 30 year trend, and the trend is saying that both will be available at 17.

  • mokhkw

    The Steelers choice of TEs in the Free Agency era has been pretty well defined so far. Doesn’t mean it can’t & won’t change, but I’m referring to what the Steelers do historically, not my own personal thoughts.

    Yes, Bruener was an afterthought as a pass-catcher under Cowher. At times Miller has been as well. In both cases it was their blocking which was needed more than their pass catching ability; Miller spent a lot of time pass blocking in 2010 for eg.

    If we’re going to use a No.17 pick on a TE then he had better be the next Gronk, Gates or Gonz. I’m not sure I see that with Eifert tbh so I’m not a fan of him being the 1st Rd pick.

    One guy who jumped out to me while watching the combine was Chris Gragg from Arkansas. He ran routes like a WR ( he used to play that spot w/4.46 40-time) and started off 2012 with dominant play before getting hurt. Projects between Rds 5-7 and if he can stay healthy, could be a steal as a H-Back.

    Kelce has upside & would be good value in the 3rd vs Eifert in the 1st imo.

  • SteelerDave

    I also have stenosis and nerve damage from an accident and although it I pay the price all night afterwards I do my best to be active with my kids. They need that. I know the pain, I know the meds. Jones might be able to tough out a few seasons but he is never going to last in the league for a 10 year career.

  • $19122620

    Yeah, I don’t think Warmack and Cooper are the best players in the draft either. But I do think they will be the best players available sooner than in years past based on the lack of elite top end players in this draft at those coveted positions (plus feelings that Warmack and Cooper might be the best G prospect in the last 10 years). For this reason, I suspect teams will be more willing to draft Cooper and or Warmack than a guy who is more of a middle to late first round pick though he play at one of the coveted positions. In other words, I think teams will be more inclined to draft Warmack or Cooper simply because they are the best available prospects despite not playing one of the coveted positions (CB, OT, OLB, DE etc).

    But I could be wrong, but the above is my gut instinct based on their overall talent and what rumors are seeming to indicate about how teams feel about Cooper and Warmack. Nevertheless, the draft is right around the corner, so all speculation will either be confirmed or proven otherwise.

  • SteelerDave

    Absolutely! Draft gods please let Shamarko fall to the 3rd round and Rambo fall to the 4th round or vice versa.

    My draft… Eifert or Cooper, then best available OLB, then Shamarko then Rambo then RB Franklin then best available speed WR then ILB project then tall WR project.

  • steeltown

    I like that, except I’d say best available LB or WR in the 2nd

    Also, I dont think theres any way Franklin lasts past late 3rd Rd, he’s the 3rd-4th best RB in the draft behind Gio Bernard, Lacy and Ball, in my opinion

  • alex

    we’re all nervous because of last years end season splatter…part of me wanted to punt the last game and then we’d be picking @ #12…in any case, we all want our offense to score, but how to do that…with a top flight RB,TE, or WR, to flash by defenders or another road grader OG to go with DeCastro and Pouncey to bang out holes or cover the blitz…?

    cant wait till next week…

  • Eric MacLaurin

    I not only wonder about shelf life but if he is better off not working out and how you reconcile that with the need to keep the team pushing at a somewhat unhealthy level anyway.

  • Eric MacLaurin

    Good stuff.

    I worry about Eifort as well but I have heard a few things that make me wonder and I have zero trust for the reports being put out. I can’t say there is anyone out of the top 8-9 that would be as good as a gronk at any position though so if Eifort is as far above average as whoever else available, I could live with the decision. I’d sure take him over Kenan Allen for example.

    Personally I’m hoping for Toilolo or whoever the Stanford second TE is in the 5th.

  • Michael Mazanowski

    Story out there that the Atlanta Falcons are looking to trade up in NFL draft. They have the 30th pick and they want Xavier Rhodes pretty bad! I’m hoping the Steelers trade down and pick up an extra pick in the process.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    People have been bashing me for saying Cooper but it’s the reason u say hergie, who else do we take? Plus u can never have too many good OL.

  • mokhkw

    Tollolo is another example of how we can get a potential starter or valued contributor at the TE/H=Back spot without having to use a 1st Rd Pick.