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UNC’s Cooper Top ACC Pick

By Southern Pigskin Staff
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Jonathan Cooper becomes the first offensive guard picked in the top 10 since Colorado’s Chris Naeole was selected by the New Orleans Saints at No. 10.

Chapel Hill, N.C. - North Carolina offensive guard Jonathan Cooper was selected No. 7 overall by the Arizona Cardinals Thursday night in the first-round of the 2013 NFL Draft.  Cooper is the 21st overall first-round draft pick in Carolina history and the fifth in the last six years.

"What an exciting moment for Jonathan and his family," said head coach Larry Fedora.  "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."

A native of Wilmington, N.C., Cooper is one of the most decorated offensive linemen in UNC history. He earned consensus All-America honors and was a finalist for the 2012 Outland Trophy.  Cooper started 48 games in his career and was a three-time All-ACC pick, including first-team honors as a senior.

"He is one of the most athletic offensive guards I've seen in 35 years," said ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper.  "He's one of the best players in this draft at any position."

Cooper is just the fourth offensive lineman and second guard to be picked in the first round from UNC.  The other first-round offensive linemen from UNC were guard Ken Huff in 1975 (No. 3 overall), tackle Brian Blados in 1984 (No. 28) and tackle Harris Barton in 1987 (No. 22).

Cooper becomes the first offensive guard picked in the top 10 since Colorado’s Chris Naeole was selected by the New Orleans Saints at No. 10.

As a senior, Cooper became the seventh offensive guard in UNC history to earn first-team All-America honors (George Barclay, 1934; Ron Rusnak, 1972; Ken Huff, 1974; Ron Wooten, 1980; David Dreschler, 1981-82; Pat Crowley, 1989). He became the first guard to be first-team All-America since Crowley in 1989 and he was the first consensus first-team All-America at UNC since Julius Peppers in 2001. 

North Carolina's First-Round Draft Picks (22)

1965 - Ken Willard (RB) - No. 2, San Francisco

1971 - Don McCauley (TB) - No. 22, Baltimore

1975 - Ken Huff (OG) - No. 3, Baltimore

1981 - Lawrence Taylor (LB) - No. 2, New York Giants

1981 - Donnell Thompson (DE) - No. 18, Baltimore

1984 - Brian Blados (OL) - No. 28, Cincinnati

1985 - Ethan Horton (RB/TE) - No. 15, Kansas City

1987 - Harris Barton (OT) - No. 22, San Francisco

1993 - Thomas Smith (CB) - No. 28, Buffalo

1996 - Marcus Jones (DT) - No. 22, Tampa Bay

1998 - Greg Ellis (DE) - No. 8, Dallas

1998 - Brian Simmons (LB) - No. 17, Cincinnati

1998 - Vonnie Holliday (DT) - No. 19, Green Bay

1999 - Ebenzer Ekuban (DE) - No. 20, Dallas

2002 - Julius Peppers (DE) - No. 2, Carolina

2002 - Ryan Sims (DT) - No. 6, Kansas City

2008 - Kentwan Balmer (DT) - No. 29, San Francisco

2009 - Hakeem Nicks (WR) - No. 29, New York Giants

2011 - Robert Quinn (DE) - No. 14, St. Louis

2012 - Quinton Coples (DE) - No. 16, New York Jets

2013 - Jonathan Cooper (OG) - No. 7, Arizona