“We truly feel like this guy could be a 10-to-12 year pro,” Arizona general manager Steve Keim said. “[He’s] a Pro Bowl caliber talent. Has a unique skill set. Maybe one of the more athletic offensive linemen I’ve done in the 15 years I’ve been in the business. Has tremendous feet, bend, athleticism, space skills and the ability to pull and play on the perimeter. So we are very, very excited about adding Jonathan Cooper to our organization.”
The 6-foot-2, 311-pound guard is UNC's highest draft pick since 2002 (Julius Peppers, No. 2; Ryan Sims, No. 6). Cooper is just the fourth offensive lineman in school history to be drafted in the first round.
"I'm excited about coming in and making an immediate impact and playing for a great organization," Cooper said following his selection. "I think I can come in and help shore up the offensive line a little bit, keep Carson Palmer clean and open up some holes so that we can have a great running game."
Cooper earned consensus first-team All-America honors in 2012 as arguably the nation's top left guard. The Wilmington, N.C. native was an Outland Trophy finalist and won the Jacobs Blocking Trophy, which is awarded to the top offensive lineman in the ACC.
“What an exciting moment for Jonathan and his family,” UNC head coach Larry Fedora said in a school release. “Coop is a great ambassador for our program and the University of North Carolina. He is everything you could ask for in a student-athlete. He is a great player and one of the best I’ve ever coached at offensive guard.
“He provided great leadership and character during his career at UNC and I’m proud of him for earning his degree. Arizona is getting an outstanding player who is an even better person.”
Cooper, who started 48 games for North Carolina, was a first-team All-ACC selection in 2012 after earning second-team honors in 2010 and 2011.
Cooper is UNC's 21st first-round pick in program history and the fifth in the last six years. He's the highest drafted guard since Brian Jozwiak in 1986 (Kansas City, No. 7).
UNC's five first-round draft picks since 2008 ties Boston College for the most by an ACC school in that span.