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).
North Carolina defensive tackle Sylvester Williams was selected No. 28 overall by the Denver Broncos Thursday night in the first-round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Williams is the 22nd overall first-round draft pick in Carolina history and the sixth in the last six years.
No other ACC school has had as many first-round picks (6) as Carolina since 2008.
“I’m so proud of Sylvester and what he’s accomplished in his life,” said head coach Larry Fedora. “He’s worked incredibly hard to accomplish his goals and Denver will be a great fit for him. Sly overcame several obstacles in his past to earn his degree from North Carolina and be selected in the NFL Draft. He was a selfless leader who did everything to help our team win.”
Williams enrolled at Carolina in January, 2011, after two seasons at Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College. He worked at Modine Manufacturing Company making radiator parts for large trucks before enrolling at Coffeyville.
At Carolina, Williams was a standout defensive tackle who earned first-team All-ACC honors in 2012 and was chosen to the Pro Football Weekly All-America team. He finished the season with 42 tackles, including 13.5 tackles for losses and six sacks.
He started all 25 games in Chapel Hill, playing through an ankle injury last season. As a junior he posted 54 tackles, 7.0 tackles for losses and 2.5 sacks.
“He could have been a top 15 pick and no one could have argued,” said ESPN Draft analyst Mel Kiper. “The Denver Broncos defensive line just got a lot better with that pick.”
The last time a defensive tackle from UNC was selected in the first round was 2008 when Kentwan Balmer was taken at No. 29 by San Francisco.