With most players there is an “if” attached to them as to whether or not they are actually going to become great at the next level. With Ohio State commit Jonathon Cooper as a pass rusher, it’s more of a “when”.
Everything I see from him shows me he can develop into a double digit sack guy at the college level and he is still scratching the surface as to how good he can be.
Cooper is not the ideal in terms of height and length, but he has good size and strength at this point in his development. He should be able to get to the 255 range while at Ohio State. He has good speed and awesome short area explosiveness. His lateral movement is also outstanding. He’s definitely one of the better athletes as an edge rusher in this class.
Relentless is the best word I could use to describe Cooper as a football player. He plays with great effort and keeps fighting to get to the football even if he isn’t playing with great technique. That goes a long way in making him such a great prospect.
He was the best edge rusher I saw at The Opening and he won with a fantastic first step and ability to work through the edge of an offensive tackle. Everything begins with his speed. He can convert the speed to power with a great bull rush or just take the edge and bend and lean to get to the quarterback. When tackles overset, he did a great job of moving laterally to get inside and finish. The one constant with him on film as a pass rusher is that he is always working. He is going to get a lot of hard work sacks as well as sacks that come from his natural athletic ability. He definitely needs to improve his hands in terms of his initial move and counter, but the same can be said for just about any prospect at that stage of his development.
He didn’t wear pads at The Opening so I didn’t get to see him play versus the run so it’s impossible to give him an in-person evaluation in that area. On film he certainly has the speed and effort to make plays in pursuit, but his pad level is too high initially out of his stance far too often. Even though he is firing off the ball quickly, he will lose the leverage battle and will struggle at the point of attack if he doesn’t get better with this. He looked better at staying lower while at The Opening, but again, that wasn’t versus the run and wasn’t with pads on.
He needs to become better at recognizing blocks and delivering a punch. He often exposes his chest and doesn’t adjust like he should to some of the blocks he is seeing. His ability to keep fighting and get to the football is great, but that isn’t enough to stay unblocked at the next level. He needs to get a lot better in this area if he is going to be a player that can set the edge versus the run.
He is probably athletic enough to play as a 3-4 outside linebacker, but he should be a great fit to play as an end in the Buckeyes 4-3 defense.
Cooper might be the best pass rusher in this entire class right now, but he has some work to do in other areas to be more than just a great nickel rusher as the next level. He has the tools to get there, though, and if he puts it all together, he could end up being a double digit sack player and an All-American candidate at Ohio State.
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Jamie Uyeyama was a way too small defensive tackle at Idaho State University and a more appropriately sized rush end at Simon Fraser University. He was a coach at the college and high school level and is the son of Ron Uyeyama, a member of the Delta Sports Hall of Fame and high school football coach for over 30 years (hence the site name, Son of a Coach).