It is no secret the New York Giants would like to add some youth and athleticism on the offensive line and could address this need early in the 2013 NFL Draft. Ideally they would like to add a tackle prospect but adding a guard could also be on their agenda. It isn’t likely that Chance Warmack, the best guard in the draft, falls to the Giants at 19th overall. However, North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper could very well be.
Cooper has good size for the position at 6-3, 315 pounds and possesses excellent athleticism especially in pass protection. He uses a quick first step to get into position and will square up defenders. He can redirect quickly and will shadow his defender very well, giving the quarterback time to release the football.
In the run game Cooper won’t necessarily overpower defenders. He is far from being a road grader but he is a very consistent blocker who uses his speed and size to gain the advantage. He has a very good explosion off of the snap and uses that to pave the way, often engaging defenders before they have a chance to get set.
One drawback is Cooper’s history of drawing silly penalties. He sometimes looks as if he has lapses in concentration and in order to make up for that mistake will take a hold or will jump early. This is something that would drive Tom Coughlin nuts but is something that be worked on and fixed.
The Giants best guard, Chris Snee, is already contemplating retirement. The Giants did re-sign Kevin Boothe but Boothe is an eight-year veteran and the Giants could use some youth at guard moving forward.
Adding a guard isn’t as sexy as some other positions but the Giants do need to make sure Eli Manning is protected for years to come. Manning has been the epitome of health since 2004 and the Giants would like to keep their two-time Super Bowl MVP on the field. The history of the Giants’ drafts shows GM Jerry Reese tends to spend later round picks on his offensive line, usually prospects who are a year or two away from playing a prominent role. Cooper could start for most NFL teams but with Snee and Boothe in the fold as the starters he could see the field occasionally, spelling the veterans while learning the offense and working on shoring up his weaknesses. Cooper does possess the ability to become a Pro Bowl-caliber player at the next level. However, this draft seems to have more offensive line prospects than at other positions so there is a chance Cooper falls a bit in the draft.