NFL Draft 2013: Jonathan Cooper, EJ Manuel, Bjoern Werner Among 34 ACC Players Selected

EJ Manuel Was One of 34 ACC Players Selected During Last Week's NFL Draft

Former FSU QB EJ Manuel Was One of 34 ACC Players Selected During Last Week’s NFL Draft

The 2013 NFL Draft is officially in the books after 254 selections from the NFL’s 32 franchises. In total, the ACC saw 31 players chosen in this year’s draft — 34, if you include the three draftees from Syracuse (and for argument’s sake, we will here). That number — regardless of which you decide to use — puts the conference behind just behind the more highly-regarded SEC in terms of NFL-bound talent this season. While not the only thing that counts by any means, moving players on to the NFL resonates with potential recruits, and does help all 14 (15) schools in one way or another.

We’ve included various breakdowns below — from school-by-school, to conference comparisons, an NFL team-by-team list, as well as the full list of ACC players chosen between Thursday and Saturday. Also, stop by later on, to see our compilation of the most confusing non-selections from the ACC, and where those players also ended up.

First 10 ACC Players Selected

No. 7 overall (Round 1): Jonathan Cooper, OG/North Carolina, selected by the Arizona Cardinals

No. 16 overall (Round 1): EJ Manuel, QB/Florida State, selected by the Buffalo Bills

No. 19 overall (Round 1): Justin Pugh, OT/Syracuse, selected by the New York Giants

No. 24 overall (Round 1): Bjoern Werner, DE/Florida State, selected by the Indianapolis Colts

No. 25 overall (Round 1): Xavier Rhodes, CB/Florida State, selected by the Minnesota Vikings

No. 27 overall (Round 1): DeAndre Hopkins, WR/Clemson, selected by the Houston Texans

No. 28 overall (Round 1): Sylvester Williams, DT/North Carolina, selected by the Denver Broncos

No. 37 overall (Round 2): Giovani Bernard, RB/North Carolina, selected by the Cincinnati Bengals

No. 40 overall (Round 2): Cornellius “Tank” Carradine, DE/Florida State, selected by the San Francisco 49ers

No. 42 overall (Round 2): Menelik Watson, OT/Florida State, selected by the Oakland Raiders

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NFL Draft 2013: Jonathan Cooper, EJ Manuel Among Seven ACC First-Round Picks

Now-Cardinal Jonathan Cooper Was One of Seven ACC Players Selected in Round One

Now-Cardinal Jonathan Cooper Was One of Seven ACC Players Selected in the NFL Draft’s First Round

For those who’ve been hanging with us here on the blog tonight, we’ve been keeping up with every ACC player selected in the 2013 NFL Draft — seven in all — providing some quick thoughts on each pick. All-in-all, there were certainly a few surprises, and needless to say our mock draft (and everyone else’s) was mostly wrong.

We’ll have a full breakdown post-draft next week, but for now, here’s a quick look at all seven ACC players chosen in the first round this evening, with links to our individual stories on each selection. And for those looking for thoughts on the entire NFL Draft, I was conducting a live thread over at Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician tonight, going pick-by-pick in the comments. But back to ACC matters…

#7 Arizona Cardinals: Jonathan Cooper, OG/North Carolina (Mock Draft: 8th overall)

By the time we got to draft day, Cooper was suddenly being considered a once-in-a-generation guard. And given his speed and size combination up front, and the running game he’s facilitated at UNC, why not? Arizona had one of the NFL’s worst rushing attacks in 2012, and this goes a long way toward fixing that.

#16 Buffalo Bills: EJ Manuel, QB/Florida State (Mock Draft: 43rd overall)

Once Buffalo swapped picks with the Rams, I thought we were perfectly set up for a regular old Syracuse family reunion between Doug Marrone, Nathaniel Hackett and QB Ryan Nassib. Instead, the Bills made one of the more surprising moves of the first round, picking Manuel, who’s seen as a proven commodity by many scouts. He’ll have some ramp to adjust to the pros — the team has Kevin Kolb on the roster as well — but there’s suddenly a lot of weight on Manuel’s shoulders.

#19 New York Giants: Justin Pugh, OT/Syracuse (Mock Draft: 48th overall)

If not for some later moves in the first, THIS would’ve arguably been the biggest reach of the entire round. And that’s not to discredit fellow Syracuse alumnus Justin Pugh, either. But with a glut of elite defenders falling to the later selections, most Giants fans (this one included) seemed convinced they’d go with someone on that side of the ball. Still, Pugh addresses a major need on the line for New York, and will have an opportunity to make an immediate impact. He’s the second straight Syracuse player to go in the top 20 after the Patriots picked Chandler Jones last year.

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NFL Draft 2013: North Carolina’s Jonathan Cooper Picked Seventh Overall by Arizona Cardinals

North Carolina's Jonathan Cooper is Selected Seventh Overall by the Arizona Cardinals

North Carolina’s Jonathan Cooper is Selected Seventh Overall by the Arizona Cardinals

The first ACC player is now off the board, as North Carolina offensive guard Jonathan Cooper is selected by the Arizona Cardinals. Arizona needed a ton of offensive line help, and Cooper certainly fits that bill. Cooper was a late riser, but with the run on offensive linemen in this top 10, you can’t argue with this pick at all. Smart move by the Cards.

Want to read up on Cooper a bit more? Check out our North Carolina draft preview from earlier this week.

Congrats to Jonathan and his family. We’ll be updating the blog with every first round pick as they happen.


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NFL Draft 2013 Preview: Mock-Drafting Every ACC Prospect

Will Former UNC Guard Jonathan Cooper End Up Being a Top-10 Pick?

Could Former North Carolina Offensive Guard Jonathan Cooper End Up Being a Top-10 Pick?

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been evaluating every ACC prospect for the 2013 NFL Draft, giving some quick thoughts on players’ skill sets and what round they may be chosen in. With the draft officially starting tomorrow night, we’ll now be mocking up a quick draft, complete with the teams most likely to choose these players. For those who are not projected to be selected, we’ve avoided predictions, since it’s a pointless exercise in predicting undrafted free agency. Interested in full profiles of every ACC prospect? See the list of team previews at the bottom of the piece.

***First Round

8. Buffalo Bills: Jonathan Cooper, OG/North Carolina (Sr.)

19. New York Giants: Bjoern Werner, DE/Florida State (Jr.)

22. St. Louis Rams: Cornellius “Tank” Carradine, DE/Florida State (Sr.)

24. Indianapolis Colts: Xavier Rhodes, CB/Florida State (Jr.)

27. Houston Texans: DeAndre Hopkins, WR/Clemson (Jr.)

30. Atlanta Falcons: Menelik Watson, OT/Florida State (Jr.)

***Second Round

33. Jacksonville Jaguars: Sylvester Williams, DT/North Carolina (Sr.)

41. Buffalo Bills: Ryan Nassib, QB/Syracuse (Sr.)

43. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: EJ Manuel, QB/Florida State (Sr.)

48. Pittsburgh Steelers: Justin Pugh, OT/Syracuse (Sr.)

53. Cincinnati Bengals: Giovani Bernard, RB/North Carolina (So.)

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NFL Draft 2013 Preview: North Carolina Prospects

Jonathan Cooper is One of Several Former Tar Heels Climbing Draft Boards

Jonathan Cooper is One of Several Former Tar Heels Climbing Draft Boards Right Now

Leading up to this month’s NFL Draft, we’ll be taking a look at each ACC‘s school’s prospects and where they’re slated to be chosen. While 50 ACC players were invited to the NFL Draft Combine, those not in attendance also have ample opportunity to hear their name called between April 25 through 27.

North Carolina‘s recent resurgence obviously means they have quality players, so it should come as no surprise the Heels are able to churn out yet another collection of pro-level talent this year. This could change as coach Larry Fedora starts to bring in players more suited for his aggressive spread offense and non-traditional defensive schemes. But for the time being, UNC is improving both on the field and in NFL Draft war rooms across the league.

Jonathan Cooper, OG, Senior (Projected: Early First Round)

Cooper was the anchor of the Carolina offensive line last year, and one of the primary reasons for Giovani Bernard’s breakout season in the backfield (see more below), so it’s no wonder he’s now receiving early first round hype. The 6’2″ and 311-pound guard is an impressive athlete, with quick feet, an equally impressive 40-time (5.06 seconds) for his position and the type of durability (47 career starts) that scouts dream of. Yes, in an ideal world he could be a bit taller or put on a few extra pounds, but the latter can be fixed at the gym and the former is evened out by the advantage provided by his low center of gravity. Over the course of his career, Cooper’s proven he can open holes for running backs, and at the end of the day, that’s what he’ll be judged on. Lots of teams need offensive line help in the early parts of the draft too, which should give him ample opportunities to be chosen within the first 10 or 12 picks.

Giovani Bernard, RB, Sophomore (Projected: Second Round)

Teams that pass on Bernard could be very sorry later on; something he’ll make sure to deliver on. The quick back may lack that breakaway speed you’re looking for out of a featured rusher, but his ability to see the field and hit the hole quickly instead are equally important attributes. At 5’9″ and 205 pounds, there is some concern that he’ll be an injury risk, though if you look at his game tape, you’re much less concerned. As a running back, receiver and return man, Bernard has field vision and body strength that make him a monster in the open field or between the tackles. He’s the type of player who can put an entire team on his back, and very many times did during his Tar Heels career. While it’s certainly a best-case scenario, Bernard has the physical and mental makeup to be an elite target out of the backfield in the same molds as former pros Marshall Faulk or LaDainian Tomlinson.

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ACC Football Top 25 Players of 2012: #12, Jonathan Cooper

After Paving the Way for Giovani Bernard, Jonathan Cooper's Now Headed to the NFL

After Paving the Way for Giovani Bernard, Jonathan Cooper’s Now Headed to the NFL

As part of our 2012 season review, we’re counting down the top 25 players in the ACC this season, from no. 25 to no. 1. Obviously these lists are always completely subjective — and thus completely bulletproof, obviously — so feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments, too.

No. 12, Jonathan Cooper, G/North Carolina (Preseason Rank: NR)

Giovani Bernard and Bryn Renner will likely be tossed the majority of the praise for North Carolina’s offense this year. But of course, that ignores the integral role that Cooper played in all this. Whether in run or pass protection, the 6’3″ 295-pound senior was a force this year. He graded out at 90-percent on the season, and registered 10 or more knockdowns in 75-percent of his games. Behind Cooper, not only did Bernard run up a career year, but he also set the stage for the unsung success of Bernard’s backup, A.J. Blue (433 yards, nine scores) as well. North Carolina’s 11 sacks allowed (largely due in part to Cooper’s efforts) were tied for ninth in the entire FBS, and tied for seventh when discounting teams option-based offenses. It’s numbers like that that have NFL scouts salivating, and there’s now a pretty good likelihood he’ll hear his name called within the first 20 or so picks during the NFL Draft.

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2012 All-ACC Football Team: Offense

Clemson's DeAndre Hopkins Was One of Several Star Performers in the ACC This Season

Clemson’s DeAndre Hopkins Was One of Several Star Performers in the ACC This Season

As most other publications have also done, we’ve put together an All-ACC team here at Atlantic Coast Convos, honoring the best players from the 2012 football season. We’ve also included players from Syracuse and Pittsburgh, as that has always been our policy, and once bowl season is over, all ACC football news will have to involve them anyway. In this post, you’ll find both the first- and second-team offense, with choices for All-ACC defense now live as well.

See any selections you agree with? Disagree with? Feel free to voice your concerns in the comments below.

2012 Atlantic Coast Convos All-ACC Team: Offense

First Team

QB Tajh Boyd, Clemson

RB Giovani Bernard, North Carolina

RB Ray Graham, Pittsburgh

WR DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson

WR Alec Lemon, Syracuse

TE Brandon Ford, Clemson

G Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina

G Omoregie Uzzi, Georgia Tech

C Dalton Freeman, Clemson

OT James Hurst, North Carolina

OT Justin Pugh, Syracuse

Second Team

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