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Jonathan Cooper could be moving to center

It would be the third position in three seasons for the former number seven overall pick.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The right side of the offensive line for the Arizona Cardinals in 2016 was supposed to be taken over by two former first round picks. Last year's pick, tackle D.J. Humphries, is expected to start at right tackle and general manager Steve Keim's first draft pick Jonathan Cooper was in line to start at right guard.

But local reporter Kent Somers and also reporter/radio host Mike Jurecki, as well as national reporter Ian Rapoport all reported Wednesday the Cardinals are considering moving Cooper to center.

This is an interesting development, to say the least, and it has several levels to it.

First, it tells us how the Cardinals feel about the center position and A.Q. Shipley, whom they signed last offseason. Clearly they are not comfortable giving him the starting job.

It also tells us about Cooper. Cooper has played exactly one game at center since the start of college all the way through three seasons in the NFL. His one game in college was not good. While he has had a few snaps in practice, it has never been more than having a quarterback take snaps from him on the side. He has never played center even in the preseason.

It feels like a desperate move to get him somewhere.

When he was drafted, there was chatter among fans that he could potentially be moved to center, but that wasn't anything commonly noted in scouting reports.

It is an interesting move as well because his issues last season were with the mental side of the line -- line assignments. At center, he would be making the protection calls. If that was his issue a season ago, moving him to center would not really make sense.

If the report is true, it opens the door for the Cardinals to sign a guard in free agency or to draft one early.

While the team has been very adamant at saying Cooper has a bright future, their actions tell us they just don't have the confidence to count on him.

After drafting him higher than any guard guard in recent history and comparing him to Alan Faneca before he even played a down, they signed Mike Iupati last offseason to play his left guard spot, moving him to right guard. Now they are moving him yet again after he was benched late in the season in favor of Ted Larsen, who is now a free agent.

Maybe this will work out long term, but the move screams desperation and Cooper is really, really close to being yet another of many offensive line first round busts.