PHOENIX - So what does the signing of Jonathan Cooper mean to the Cardinals?
Cooper's presence will be significant to the Cardinals success on offense. Getting your first round pick into camp is critical every season, but with so many historical problems on the offensive line, it's important to give your lineman as much opportunity to jell and get to know each other as possible.
Backing up a few days, on Thursday, the Cardinals signed eight year veteran Eric Winston. A huge offensive tackle (6'7", 302 lbs.) Winston has been a starter in the league for seven seasons. The addition of Winston signified how concerned the Cardinals are with the current situation in the offensive line, even after drafting Cooper.
Now that Cooper is under contract, the new coaching staff can start working on developing an offensive line that has clearly underperformed over the last several years. In 2012, the Cardinals were last in rushing yards per game (75.3) and first in sacks given up (58), while finishing number one in interceptions (21) and 31 st in touchdown passes (11). Clearly, the offensive line was less than stellar. The ten rushing touchdowns the Cardinals scored in 2012 ranked in a tie for 21 st, so it's clear to see that improvement was needed.
Now that Cooper is in camp, the Cardinals can start to work on assembling an offensive line that can hopefully help new quarterback Carson Palmer stay upright. Palmer threw for over 4,000 yards last season with the Raiders, but he's not known as a very mobile quarterback.
With Cooper and Winston added to the mix, and Levi Brown returning from injury, Coach Arians is hoping he's done enough to improve the situation on offense. On a side note, the Cardinals haven't had a Pro Bowl offensive lineman since Lomas Brown in 1996. That's a long run without a Pro Bowl caliber player on your roster.
With the addition of Cooper and Winston, the starting lineup will probably look something like this: Levi Brown at Left Tackle, Jonathan Cooper and Left Guard, Lyle Sendlein at Center, Daryn Colledge at Right Guard and Eric Winston at Right Tackle. Now that could develop into a formidable offensive line if everyone stays healthy. And with Levi Brown coming off a torn bicep, so if Brown doesn't develop during training camp, we could see Nate Potter get the snaps at Left tackle.
But regardless how it all shakes out, having Cooper in camp can only mean improvement in the offensive line play.