Cleveland Browns: Jonathan Cooper is a low-risk, high-reward signing
The Cleveland Browns claimed Jonathan Cooper off waivers from the Patriots. Cooper’s injuries have left his career in shambles. Can the Browns fix him?
The Cleveland Browns claimed Jonathan Cooper, the seventh overall pick from the 2013 NFL Draft, off waivers this week from the New England Patriots. The Browns will be Cooper’s third team in the last two years.
Cooper was originally drafted by the Arizona Cardinals, a pick that was praised as a smart move for the Cardinals as Cooper was billed as a “plug-and-play” lineman out of North Carolina. However, things did not turn out that way for several reasons.
Cooper sustained a serious leg injury in 2013 as he broke his leg in the third preseason game. Since the injury, Cooper has yet to get his career on track, and readily admits that the challenge of recovering from his leg injury has been more on the mental side of things.
More from Dawg Pound Daily
- How the Browns could maximize Nick Chubb in 2023
- Can Deshaun Watson get to Patrick Mahomes level for Cleveland Browns?
- 3 Cleveland Browns who should see an expanded role in 2023 and 1 who should not
- Is Marcus Davenport on the Browns radar in 2023?
- 5 Free agents from Super Bowl LVII Cleveland Browns should target
“It’s just one of those things; you’ve worked hard and things just haven’t seemed to fall your way,” he told Sirius XM NFL Radio in June. “Honestly, it’s more of a mental thing than anything else. I feel like the biggest thing is the actual fresh start with a new organization and being able, from this day forward, to rewrite my history and be a better player than I was before.”
In March the Cardinals trade Cooper to the Patriots, but his fresh start with New England did not last long, however. Cooper suffered a foot injury during training camp and was inactive for the first four games of the regular season. With the Patriots solidifying the offensive line with other players, Cooper, who was a throw-in in the Chandler Jones trade, became expendable and was subsequently released.
The Browns are hoping that Cooper can get healthy and fix the mental side of his game. He came into the NFL needing to put on weight and increase his strength. He also needed to correct basic football technique as he came out of a spread offensive system with the Tar Heels.
Players coming out of a spread system typically have a hard time learning to play in a three-point stance and playing with leverage. Unfortunately, Cooper has yet to learn these things due to his injury history. Here you can see how Cooper lacks an ability to use leverage as he gets pushed back into Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer.
However, the reason why teams viewed Cooper as a plug-and-play lineman was his ability to pass protect and his agility in a zone-blocking scheme. The Browns can certainly use his ability to protect the passer along the offensive line. When using leverage, he pass blocks well.
Fans should view Jonathan Cooper as a project. His development has been stunted by the rash of injuries that have plagued him over his career. If he can stay healthy, he will still need to learn to play with leverage on the offensive line.
Overall, Cooper is a good waiver claim and reclamation project. If he fails to pan out, nothing is lost. If he finds success, then the Browns have a first-round talent for nothing. This is the definition of a low-risk, high-reward move.
Next: Danny Shelton playing at All Pro level
Let’s hope the scenario plays out into high reward.