The Denver Broncos selected Ohio State edge rusher Jonathon Cooper with pick 239 in the seventh round of the 2021 NFL draft. For as good as he was for the Buckeyes — a known leader and high-character stalwart — many draftniks wondered why he fell to Round 7.
The answer: Cooper has a heart condition called Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW), per 9NEWS' Mike Klis, which NFL teams knew about heading into the draft. He voluntarily took an EKG test pre-draft, and those results, per Klis, were sent out to the 32 teams.
"I think that kind of hurt my stock," Cooper told Klis.
Cooper will be undergoing another heart ablation (he's had two prior), which will cause him to miss next week's rookie mini-camp and perhaps more. It is considered a 'minimally invasive' procedure. This is not open-heart surgery. The Broncos fully expect to have him back in time for training camp this summer and were well aware of his condition before drafting him.
Cooper was born two months premature with a caved-in chest, per Klis' reporting. He has managed to overcome those setbacks as a player, going on to become a two-time captain at Ohio State and very productive on the football field.
It doesn't matter that Cooper was drafted in the seventh round. What does matter is that he was drafted and to the Broncos.
Denver has a rich tradition of finding late-round and undrafted edge rushers that have gone on to make a sizable impact in the league. From Shaquil Barrett back in 2014 (undrafted) to even Malik Reed two years ago (undrafted) — the former of whom led the NFL in sacks in 2019 as a Buccaneer while the latter led the Broncos in 2020 — Denver is a good place for an overlooked edge rusher to land.
Cooper will be back and when he does return, he'll first cross swords with 2020 seventh-rounder Derrek Tuszka. If Cooper vanquishes Tuszka, he'll then have to do battle with Reed in order to sniff playing time behind starters Von Miller and Bradley Chubb.
Knowing Cooper's character, heart, and talent, I wouldn't rule anything out.
Follow Chad on Twitter @ChadNJensen.
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