Arizona Cardinals rookie left guard Jonathan Cooper has a lot of expectations coming into his first year of his NFL career. He was drafted by the Cardinals seventh overall in April's draft, the first guard to be taken in the top 10 since the 90s.
He was a guest on North Carolina's largest radio show, The David Glenn Show, along with his head coach at UNC Larry Fedora, and talked to sit-in host Jones Angell (the voice of UNC athletics) about adjustments in the NFL and expectations of him as a professional.
Listen to the full interview using the streaming player below or by clicking this direct link.
One of the first things that stands out is what Fedora says about Cooper. "I really expect Jonathan to be one of the all-time great guards in the NFL," he said.
Of course, Cooper didn't have anything do with that for now.
"Not quite yet," he said. "I have to get a few more plays under my belt, but hopefully he's right."
On his transition to the pros, he said "it hasn't been super hard, but it has been difficult at times." He cited how it is his job now, so he has to focus on that and how there is no more class to think about or hanging out after class like in college.
He also stressed the whole aspect of avoiding mental errors, but going full speed.
"It would have to be play fast," said Cooper about the adjustment to the pros. "That's kind of the biggest thing. Even they (NFL coaches) emphasize: if you're making a mistake, make it at 110%, going full speed. And we'll see that you're giving effort, you're working hard.
"And they always say: we'd rather have to say ‘WHOA' before we say ‘SICK EM'."
As for the mental errors, it is the one thing head coach Bruce Arians will not tolerate.
"His expectations of his players are: you're going to get beat every now and then; it's the NFL, these are the best of the best," he explained. "But don't beat yourself; don't make mental errors."
He cited the list of mental errors that gets shared at the start of each meeting. He also pointed out that one of the bouts of adversity he faced was at Fan Fest. He said that under the bright lights for the first day of mini-camp, he had many mental errors, which he was not used to.
The question of position came up, whether he would be playing center at all. He said that left guard really was the place he is targeted to play, but that both he and Earl Watford, also drafted in April, both do some snapping in pre-practice. Just part of the theme of being flexible.
He described the offensive scheme a bit, saying that the team "will spread you out" and that they will also run inside.
Cooper has the right makeup. He is bright, he has a high motor and he knows what is expected. He also knows that he really isn't famous, considering how he plays offensive line. This will serve him well.
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