They may be a year out of college but two presumed Arizona Cardinals starters haven’t had a chance to see the field.
Among ESPN NFL Insider Todd McShay’s five breakout redshirt rookies are Cardinals guard Jonathan Cooper and inside linebacker Kevin Minter. Their cases last season were vastly different. Cooper was out for the 2013 season with a broken leg while Minter was stuck behind former Cardinals linebacker Karlos Dansby and played just one defensive snap.
But Cooper is nearly back to 100 percent despite showing signs of rust during OTAs and minicamp and is penciled in as Arizona’s starting left guard.
“However, if between now and the start of the season he is able to round into top form, the Cardinals will be adding a very good talent to their offensive line,” McShay wrote. “He shows excellent athleticism and good technique in both pass protection and run blocking, and very good awareness and football instincts. His first-step quickness and ability to take good angles in the running game really stood out on his college tape.”
And with Dansby’s departure to Cleveland during free agency, the door was opened for Minter to become a full-time starter at inside linebacker.
“He showed coverage limitations on his college tape, but displayed good take-on skills, a great motor and the ability to deliver the big hit,” McShay wrote. “He was a little overzealous as a run defender, so improved diagnostic skills are important for him to succeed in the NFL.”