When it comes to the offensive guard position in the 2013 NFL Draft, there are two names who have risen to the top. Alabama's Chance Warmack and North Carolina's Jonathan Cooper have the game tape, athletic ability and character to become dynamic players at their respected position. It's possible that both could be gone before the Dallas Cowboys go on the clock at 18, but the history of guards being selected that high in the draft isn't very good.
If one falls to the Cowboys, then they should seriously consider drafting him to solidify their offensive line, but what happens if Warmack and Cooper are both available for the Cowboys? Which guard prospect should they choose? I wanted to discuss this a little more and take a closer look at both of these prospects.
Offensive lineman aren't typically coveted high in the draft, but Warmack is entering this draft with a ton of hype. Part of the reason Warmack is receiving the hype is due to the fact that he played in the SEC against some of the best college football talent in the country, and he was a dominant figure who paved the way for a powerful Alabama running game.
After playing in five games as a true freshmen, Warmack became a full-time starter in his sophomore season and started 39 games at left guard. Warmack possesses a mean streak and is one of the more powerful and nasty lineman that I have come across in a long time. He consistently fights, using his hands very well and delivering pancake blocks that stand out on tape. His game tape is really impressive because his power stands out and he knocks defensive lineman around with ease.
While his power is good, Warmack uses outstanding technique on almost every play. Technically, Warmack is one of the best offensive linemen that have entered the draft in the past few years. He has a great understanding of football and is willing to work hard at becoming an even better player.
Warmack is at his best as a power lineman where he can use his strength and physicality to his advantage. Even though he has good footwork and balance for a man of his size, he's still a work in progress and isn't going to be a great blocker pulling out and getting into space.
If you want a more physical presence to your offensive line, then Warmack is your guy. You know that he has the potential to become a Carl Nicks type of lineman and is as safe a pick there is in the entire draft. Jason Garrett would love to bring in a physical guard like Warmack because he brings in a mentality and style we saw from the larger offensive lineman the Cowboys used during their success in the 1990s.
I believe that Garrett wants more of a power running game, and Warmack could be the bulldozer that could jump start the running game and offer Tony Romo some interior protection. I'm sure that Garrett will be attending the Alabama Pro Day to get a closer look at Warmack and get some advice from his close friend Nick Saban.
Chance Warmack 2013 NFL Draft ProspectWatch (via Rosterwatch)
At one point in time, Warmack was heads and shoulders above any other offensive guard in this class, but after a great combine showing Cooper has truly closed that gap. Cooper may not have played in the stacked SEC, but he has 47 career starts in the ACC and went against guys like Robert Quinn, Quinton Coples and Sylvester Williams in practice.
As a former wrestler, Cooper knows how to use his hands and also displays fantastic technique. What really separates Cooper from other guards is his unique athleticism. Cooper possesses amazing agility, mobility, footwork and balance. When Cooper is sent out in space, he quickly gets out of his stance and gets up the field and clears out anyone in his way.
Cooper just looks so comfortable and natural on the move. He consistently keeps his balance and has outstanding control when in the open field. Some lineman will lunge and completely miss their blocks or assignments, but Cooper usually stays balanced and finishes out his play.
Also like Warmack, Cooper is a technician who uses his hands well and also shows that he has a mean streak to his game. Cooper may not be as nasty as Warmack, but he isn't afraid to chop it up and get physical. 35 reps on the bench press opened up some eyes who thought Cooper was purely an athletic guard who didn't have a power element to his blocking arsenal.
While Cooper is going to be a weapon in the running game, he is also going to be a very good pass protector. Cooper's kick slide is very good and will not struggle with speed rushers. If he continues to work on the power element of his game, then bull rushers will not continue to trouble him long-term. Cooper's versatility can allow him to play either guard or center, and that only makes him even more valuable. Some believe that he is only a zone-scheme blocker, but I believe that Cooper can play in any scheme and be successful.
Other than possibly Tyron Smith, the Cowboys simply do not have a offensive lineman on their team that can consistently block in space. Nate Livings is a power blocker who can not get out into space, so adding Cooper balances out the line and gives Jason Garrett another athletic blocker who can be used in a variety of ways.
2013 NFL Draft Profile: Jonathan Cooper - North Carolina (via Erick Ward)
Who Is The Better Fit?
Honestly, either player would be a home run selection for the Cowboys. I can't sit here and say one would be better than the other because each player offers positives that Dallas needs to add to their offensive line. I believe this would come down to what player fits the scheme better.
If Garrett feels that a power lineman who has the potential to become one of the best players in the entire draft is a better fit, then the selection should be Warmack. If Garrett and the war room feel that Cooper offers more versatlity and balances out the line more, then Cooper should be the selection.
So BTB, who would be the better fit for the Dallas Cowboys? Have at it in the comment section and tell us why Warmack or Cooper would be the guard we need.