When the Cardinals chose Jonathan Cooper with the seventh overall pick in last year’s NFL draft, he was viewed as one of the best guard prospects ever. But Cooper missed his entire rookie season with a broken leg, and now he’s not even starting as his second season begins.
Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said the reason Cooper is on the bench is simple: Ted Larsen has earned the starting job by out-playing Cooper in training camp and the preseason.
“I don’t care about draft status,” Arians said, via the Arizona Republic. “I want to see the results on the field, and Ted Larsen’s way outplayed [Cooper].”
Larsen was a sixth-round pick of the Patriots in 2010 but was cut before the start of the preseason. The Bucs picked him up and he played the last four years in Tampa Bay, and after the Cardinals signed him this year, he played well enough that he’s now a starter.
As for Cooper, it’s too early to call him a bust. Arians said that the broken leg and a turf toe injury in the preseason have slowed Cooper down, but the Cardinals still believe in him.
“He’s going to be a heck of a player. It’s just a matter of time and taking the right approach with him and letting him get healthy,” Arians said.
Maybe some day Cooper will be a heck of a player. Right now, he’s not as good a player as Larsen.