This matchup features another battle of offensive lineman on the offense side of the bracket. Both of these guards are great prospects who fill a major hole along the Colts offensive line. Who will advance to the second round in this war between Cooper and Warford?
Jonathan Cooper has the prototypical offensive guard type body. He stands at 6'3 and weighs 310 pounds. Cooper has excellent foot work and moves smoothly with ease. Jonathan has long arms like an offensive tackle would, which helps him tremendously in pass protection. He shows his mean streak/nastiness and responds well to blocking big defensive tackles. Cooper use to be a standout high school wrestler, so he understands leverage and blocking angles.
Cooper has a quick first step when pulling, a plus for any guard. When pulling, Cooper gets out in front on run plays most of the time. He is very good at picking up blocks down field. Jonathan is powerful at the point of contact, as he piled pancake blocks all season (18 of them). Cooper is a great fundamental blocker. He keeps his hands inside, rarely lets his hands get outside his shoulders. Jonathan's movement in space is amazing to find in guards. Cooper anticipates where defenders will be with his good angles. What Cooper is great at is creating a lane for runners by turning his butt to the hole. This movement creates a massive running lane for the ball carrier.
He gets out of stance quickly in pass protection. Cooper plays with exceptional leverage by having flexible hips and knees. Jonathan delivers one of the more powerful blocking punches in the draft. This often knocks the defensive off of his feet. He shows great agility when sliding, as he can anchor with his feet set in the ground. Always in his spots during pass plays, rarely lets defender get by him. Cooper keeps a wide base, takes short powerful steps, and does not overextend on blocks.
Cooper has excellent technique in both run and pass plays. He knows when to come off of his blocks and take on defenders down field. His head placement is good and has great awareness. Jonathan has the versatility to move to the center position on the next level. He was a four year starter at North Carolina at guard and played a few games at center. Cooper always plays to whistle and always finishes his blocks. Cooper fits a zone-blocking scheme, more than he would in a man-blocking scheme like the Colts due to him playing more in space.
Jonathan does have flaws in his game though. He is limited to guard and center on the next level due to his height. Cooper uses cut blocks way too often, resulting in the defender running around him if he doesn't get into their base. Outside of those two notes, Cooper is a relatively flawless prospect. He is one of the best pass protectors in the entire draft, including guards and tackles. Cooper grades out right next to Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher as the best pass blocking lineman in the draft on my board.
Here are some scouting video below of Cooper by Aaron Aloysius and Adrian Ahufinger for your viewing pleasure.
North Carolina vs. Virginia Tech: Cooper is #64 in white, lined up at left guard.
North Carolina vs. Maryland: Cooper is $64 in baby blue, lined up at left guard.
This North Carolina Tarheel product would start immediately for the Colts. As we mentioned in the last article involving D.J. Fluker and Dallas Thomas, any first round lineman would start over Mike McGlynn or Joe Reitz. The same would be said for Cooper as well. If he's available Ryan Grigson, Jim Irsay, and Chuck Pagano should make this the fastest pick of the entire first round. If the Colts go offensive line in the first round, don't be surprised to hear Cooper's name called if he is still on the board at 24.
Now we get into a lineman that could skyrocket up boards next week at the combine. That prospect is Larry Warford out of Kentucky. He stands and weighs in at 333 pounds. Larry is a pure mauler up front, as he is a powerful run blocker. His run blocking technique is one of the best in the entire draft as he bullies defenders down field. Warford is a good athlete and has quick feet for his quick frame.
His leg power in the draft resembles closely to the number one guard prospect, Chance Warmack out of Alabama. Warford's arms and wingspan were measured very well for an offensive guard on the next level (31 7/8" arms, 79 1/4" wingspan). Larry was also very durable at Kentucky, you rarely saw him come off the field at all on offense. Also, Warford can be scheme versatile, meaning he can play in either man or zone-blocking schemes.
Warford has strong hands and can sustain blocks for long periods of time. He can pull off the center and explode into the defender. Against SEC lineman like Jonathan Jenkins of Georgia, he can anchor well by planting his feet into the ground. Warford was a three year starter at Kentucky and improved mightily every year.
Larry downblocks as the playside guard during run plays. If you turn on the tape and watch a few of Warford's games, he's the best run blocker in this draft. He pulls with fast feet and creates a massive wall for his backs to run through. Warford is one of the better combo blockers in this draft as well. Warford is exceptional in short yardage situations. Larry can just simply overpower the defender to let his back get those yards. He can get to the second level surprisingly fast for his size. Man blocking schemes, which the Colts plan to run next year, better suit Warford.
In pass blocking, Warford can lock down and mirror defenders. This makes him a pest for defensive tackles to get around. Larry's explosive hands make the opposition bounce back a few feet every time. He has very powerful hands in pass protection. Down in Mobile, Warford wowed scouts with his foot work. Once he set his feet and planted them in the ground, it was pretty much game over for the defensive lineman. Warford isn't the best pass blocker, but if he continues to develop it on the next level he will be a force.
Warford always uses proper hand placement. He uses great leverage and as mentioned, once he anchors it's game over for defenders. His ability to anchor is one of the best I have seen in a long, long time. Larry's technique grades out as top three to five on my board of offensive lineman. This prospect is very underrated and will be a steal for whoever drafts him.
The flaws in Warford's game are few and far between. One thing that worries me is his conditioning. He tends to get completely gassed during games. Warford needs to work on bending his knees as well in his stance. This tends to happen due to him getting gassed during the games, as mentioned. Warford is a pure guard in the NFL, he doesn't have the size and arm length to be a tackle.
Here are some scouting videos of Warford below by Mario Clavel and JPDraftJedi.
Kentucky vs. Florida: Warford is #67 in white, lined up at right guard. A quick note here, this is one of the best game tapes I have seen from any lineman so far. Warford stands out really quick in this video.
Kentucky vs. Georgia: Warford is #67 in blue, lined up right guard. He goes up against one of the top nose tackle prospects in this draft a lot in Jenkins.
Warford can probably be had in the second round. If the Colts were eyeing him with their first pick, expect them to trade back into the second round to collect more picks. He would come in and start immediately at right guard over McGlynn. Pep Hamilton said that the Colts will run the ball a lot more next year. Warford is a good place to start that trend. I would be fine with Indianapolis trading down and getting Warford. He would fill a huge hole in the Colts offensive line right away.
After the analysis, who do you think should advance on to the second round? Will it be Jonathan Cooper or Larry Warford getting your vote in the poll below?