New York Jets: Jonathan Cooper

Jets draft preview: Offensive line

April, 19, 2013
This is the fifth installment in a position-by-position analysis of the New York Jets as they prepare for the draft:

Position: Offensive line

Depth chart: Center -- Nick Mangold, Caleb Schlauderaff; Tackle -- D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Austin Howard, Dennis Landolt, D.J. Young; Guard -- Willie Colon, Vladimir Ducasse.

Departures: LG Matt Slauson (Bears), RG Brandon Moore (unsigned), Jason Smith (Saints).

Total salary-cap charge (positional rank): $25.38 million (rank, first).

Scouting report: The glory days of '09 are long gone; this is a unit in transition. There's a solid foundation with Ferguson, Mangold and Howard, but there will be two new guards. Slauson left in free agency and Moore isn't far behind him. The Jets are searching for more competition at guard, shopping in the veteran-minimum aisle -- i.e. stop-gap players. They took a chance on Colon, an above-average player when healthy -- but he has been ravaged by injuries in recent years with the Steelers.

Right now, Colon and Ducasse are the starters. How's that grab you? Ducasse, a former second-round pick, was given an opportunity to start in each of his first three seasons -- and he failed every time. What makes them believe this year will be different? Howard had his share of hiccups in his first season as a starter, but he displayed enough potential to warrant a one-year, $2 million contract, the amount of his RFA tender. He was the 11th-rated right tackle in the league, according to

The last time: G Robert Griffin was drafted last year in the sixth round, but he didn't make the team in training camp.

Potential targets: No team has picked a guard in the top 10 since 1997. Will the Jets buck the trend? There are two candidates -- Chance Warmack (Alabama) and Jonathan Cooper (North Carolina). Both play left guard and both are considered future Pro Bowlers. Warmack is the better power player, Cooper the better athlete, capable of dominating in a zone-blocking scheme. There's little risk with either player, but the question is: Is there enough value in the guard position to warrant a top-10 pick? If GM John Idzik is in a play-it-safe mode in his first draft, it could be a guard. There's some thought that the Jets prefer Cooper over Warmack. They also could find a quality guard in the second round, either Brian Winters (Kent State) or Larry Warford (Kentucky). At tackle, the Jets visited with New Yorker Oday Aboushi (Virginia), a mid-round prospect.

Need rating (scale of 1 to 10): Guard -- 10; tackle -- 5; center -- 1.

Draft profile: Jonathan Cooper, UNC

April, 12, 2013
This is the sixth in a series highlighting players who could be selected by the Jets with the ninth overall pick in the April 25 draft:

Player: Jonathan Cooper, G, North Carolina

Height/weight: 6-foot-2, 311 pounds

Scouts, Inc. ranking: 9

Draft projection: 7th to 20th

Scouting report: This would be a controversial pick because no guard has cracked the top 10 since 1997 (Chris Naeole), but I hear the Jets really like Cooper. They have a definite need at the position, but could they pick a guard over a pass rusher or skill-position player? Depends on how the first eight picks fall. In terms of a prospect, Cooper is one of the safest picks in the draft. Some believe he's a better all-around player than Chance Warmack, widely regarded as the top guard. Cooper has rare athleticism for the position. He can pull and block on the run, fast enough to make it to the safety level. He's an elite pass protector and a very good, if not dominant as a run blocker. He cranked out 35 reps on the bench press at the combine, tied for second most among offensive linemen. He could be ideal in a zone-blocking system, which will be a big part of the Jets' new offense.

Key stats: Cooper started 47 games at North Carolina.

Red flags: He underwent left shoulder surgery in January, 2012, to relieve chronic inflammation, but it didn't affect him at all. He was an all-America selection and one of three finalists for the Outland Trophy. Cooper played last season at only 285 pounds, light for an NFL guard, but attributed that to playing in an up-tempo, no-huddle offense.

In his own words: "I’d say I’m a combination of power and athleticism. I can, especially with the addition of weight, I can run power. You can look at it from my first three years of film, where we’re a pro-style offense where power was our staple play. And then this year it really showed my athletic ability, getting out in space. We ran a bunch of screens and a lot of things where I was on the second and third level getting on linebackers and DBs and such."

Our mock draft: 2.0 version

April, 11, 2013
The draft is exactly two weeks away -- a good time to break out our mock draft, the 2.0 version. Here you go, the first nine picks:

1. Chiefs -- Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M

2. Jaguars -- Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon

3. Raiders -- Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU

4. Eagles -- Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama

5. Lions -- Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan

6. Browns -- Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia

7. Cards -- Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma

8. Bills -- Chance Warmack, G, Alabama

9. Jets -- Jonathan Cooper, G, North Carolina

Explanation: Ah, yes, a curve ball. I'm not saying I'd agree with this decision, but it would be a safe choice for new GM John Idzik, who scouted the North Carolina pro day. Cooper is the complete package and would start immediately at left guard. Cue the debate: Is a guard worth a top-10 pick? It hasn't happened since 1997. LSU OLB Barkevious Mingo still is available, and we all know they need an edge rusher, but I'm struggling with his modest production (4.5 sacks) and size (only 230+ pounds). In a perfect world, I think the Jets would love Jordan or Milliner (if they trade CB Darrelle Revis), but a slip to nine doesn't seem likely. There are a couple of defensive linemen in the mix -- Florida's Sharrif Floyd and Utah's Star Lotulelei -- but that would make three straight first-round picks on the D-line.