NFL Draft 2013: Breaking Down Mel Kiper's Dallas Cowboys Draft

Jason Henry@thenprojectCorrespondent IJanuary 16, 2013

Nov 10, 2012; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels guard Jonathan Cooper (64) blocks Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets safety Isaiah Johnson (1) in the first half at Kenan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN’s draft expert and hair guru, Mel Kiper, has released his first 2013 NFL Mock Draft.

Just to give you a quick peek into Kiper’s thinking, he has Texas A&M tackle Luke Joeckel going to the Chiefs at No. 1.

The first quarterback isn’t selected until after the first round, which sends a loud message of how weak this year’s quarterback class may be.

For the Cowboys, Kiper goes offensive line.

Dallas’ struggles on the offensive line aren’t news to anyone who watches the Cowboys play football. In the Cowboys final game of the year against the Redskins, Romo was sent running for his life due to the amount of pressure the Redskins kept bringing.

Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett sent blitzes on 24 pass plays, enough to drive the Cowboys home packing for the season.

With the 18th pick of the draft, Kiper selects North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper. This pick will probably change a couple of times before the draft arrives, but this is Kiper’s starting point.



To give you an idea of where Cooper stands with the experts, he’s eighth on Kiper’s big board and 22nd  on Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller’s board.

The good news is that Cooper is the second-best guard available according to Miller, which is fine considering how bad the Cowboys offensive line was at times in 2012.

Cooper was one out of 12 unanimous All-American selections and a first-team member of the Sporting News All-America team.

He’s seen as a good run-blocker as he was a large part of the reason Giovani Bernard decided to enter the NFL draft. He aided Bernard to a per-rush average of 6.7, 12 rushing touchdowns, and over 1,200 rushing yards.

The Cowboys struggled mightily at times to run the ball, but that was due in part to injuries and a porous offensive line.

What Cooper brings to the table is an ability to engage long enough to break the runner without holding the defender and has great explosiveness off the snap.



Being a unanimous All-American, it will be tough to find many negatives on Cooper. We’ll find out more about him when the NFL scouting combine comes around, but for right now, he would seem to be a pretty good fit for the Cowboys.

Against the pass rush, he plays it pretty well due to good footwork and quick hands. He doesn’t allow the defender to get around him, but will fall against some bull rushers.

Cooper’s bulk has come into question, something I’m sure will be beefed up once he’s drafted.

Besides Cooper’s possible addition, the Cowboys may toy with moving right tackle Doug Free inside. That would give the Cowboys a solid left tackle, a young guard with grand potential, and a veteran offensive lineman with potential to be consistent.

If Free is moved inside, where would the Cowboys turn to help them at right tackle?

Still a lot of questions surrounding the Cowboys protection upfront, but adding Cooper would give them more stability.

If Dallas ends up drafting the mobile guard from UNC, fans should rest easy knowing that he has potential to be an anchor inside.



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