*(Editor's Note: Heading into the upcoming NFL Draft, held April 25-27, DallasCowboys.com will take a closer look at the prospects, including some that could be potential fits with the Cowboys. Today's featured player is North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper.) *
Age:23 (born Jan. 19, 1990)
Honors:Cooper was one of the nation's most decorated offensive linemen in 2012. He was a finalist for the 2012 Outland Trophy, and he was a consensus All-American. Cooper was also selected first-team All-ACC and won the league's Jacobs Blocking Trophy. He was named second-team All-ACC in his sophomore and junior seasons in 2010 and 2011.
Key stat:Injuries are big topic when it comes to the Cowboys, and understandably after 2012. Cooper was the model of reliability during his college career, starting a North Carolina record 47 games over four years.
Where He's Headed:Cooper is widely regarded as either the best or second-best guard in this draft, along with Alabama's Chance Warmack. But that doesn't necessarily diminish Dallas' chances of landing him. NFL teams don't put the same premium on guards as they do on offensive tackles, and history proves that. In the last three drafts, the first guard off the board was taken 24th, 23rd and 17th. A guard hasn't gone in the top 10 since 1997. And even if one of the duo goes early, the odds seem good that one of them will last into the mid round.
How He Helps the Cowboys:With a rushing attack that ranked almost last in the league, it's safe to say the Cowboys could benefit from bolstering the line. Adding better protection for the newly-extended Tony Romo wouldn't hurt either. Cooper has the versatility to play either guard or center, so he'd not only add depth but give the team flexibility in determining how best to improve the line.
Scout's Take:Been on this guy for a while and have him over Chance Warmack of Alabama because I feel like that you can do more things with him scheme wise than Warmack. Square player that can hold his own inside. Very smooth player. Nice pull and adjust when he has to get outside, will find his target and sustain. Plays on his feet, rare to see him on the ground or off balance. Can adjust on the twist but also shows awareness on the blitz [embedded_ad]
pickup. Can mirror the defender. Can keep position of his block on the move. Will run man past the play. Plays with nice leverage. Helps with the line calls. Will cross the pocket to help when uncovered. Aware to what is going on around him. Athletic enough to line up and play center if he had to, don't believe Warmack could do that. Great fit for a team that runs zone schemes and wants their linemen on the move but is also strong enough to sit down on his man if he has to. – *Bryan Broaddus *