Being a top ten selection in the NFL draft can be a blessing and a curse. While being honored by the recognition of talent, the player must also be placed on a football team with a clear list of problems. North Carolina offensive guard Jonathan Cooper beat out Alabama offensive guard Chance Warmack for the first guard taken in the draft. Unfortunately for Cooper, he landed on a team that needs a lot more work, especially on the offensive side of the ball.
The one sign of success in terms of an offensive guard, is the success of the run game. Coming out of college, Cooper excelled in pulling and lead blocking for now Cincinnati Bengal Giovani Bernard. Luckily for Cooper, the Cardinals have a plethora of talented running backs. Former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall is a downhill runner, who can push the pile. With him, and young backs such as Ryan Williams, Andre Ellington, and Stepfan Taylor, Cooper should find success in the run blocking game.
As far as pass protection is concerned, the Cardinals face a dilemma. While the situation is not as bad as last season, the Cardinals have stuck with former Cincinnati Bengal and Oakland Raiders Carson Palmer. Palmer is by no means a permanent solution to the quarterback problem in Arizona, but may last a couple of solid seasons with the red and white. Palmer is a veteran quarterback, and does not let pressure get in the way of his play. Palmer will not allow himself to crumble under the situations that crippled quarterbacks such as Kevin Kolb and John Skelton.
But who is rookie Jonathan Cooper really facing this season that could prove to be troublesome? Well, we already know that he has to face Justin Smith, Aldon Smith, Cliff Avril, Michael Brockers, and former teammate Robert Quinn twice a year. Cooper must also face Ndamukong Suh, rookie Star Lotulelei, JJ Watt, and Fletcher Cox in his first year in the league. Cooper certainly has an uphill battle to prove the Cardinals right for selecting an offensive lineman with a top-10 pick, considering they have much more pressing needs, but only time will truly tell.