Scout's Notebook: C Jon Cooper

The departure of veteran Matt Birk leaves the competition for a backup spot at center wide open, with undrafted rookie free agent Jon Cooper from Oklahoma very much in the mix to earn a roster spot. Find out more right here.

#68, Jon Cooper, C (6021, 291, 4.96-5.19) Oklahoma

Notes: Born 10/1/86. Attended Fort Collins High School in Fort Collins, Colo. His father, Tom, played at Missouri (1972-75). Named Offensive Player of the Year in the Front Range Conference and earned team MVP honors as a senior. Also played defensive tackle, where he totaled 92 tackles, 8 sacks, 6 forced fumbles and 2 interceptions. High school coach was Eric Rice. Was rated the No. 20 defensive tackle in the country (ESPN.com), No. 6 center in the nation (Rivals.com), No. 3 Postseason Colorado Top 15 (Rivals.com) and No. 20 player in the Midlands (Scout.com).

College: Played in 7 games as a true freshman in 2005, starting two at center and also seeing Jon Cooper (AP)action at guard before suffering a broken right ankle that led to surgery; graded out at 83% and did not commit a penalty. Returned to start 13 of 14 games at center in 2006, grading at 77% with 125 knockdown blocks; missed one game with an ankle injury. Started all 14 games in 2007, grading out at 79% with 136 knockdowns. Was voted the Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year in 2008 by coaches as he started all 14 games. Sociology major.

Pre-Draft: Recorded 1.69 10-yard dash, 2.95 20-yard dash, 4.96-5.19 40-yard dash, 31 ½-inch vertical jump, 8'9" broad jump, 4.50 short shuttle, 7.43 three-cone drill, 31 ½-inch arms, 9-inch hands, did 32 reps at 225 pounds and recorded an impressive 34 on his Wonderlic test in workouts prior to the NFL Draft, both at Indianapolis and on campus.

Pro: A priority free agent signee by the Vikings, Cooper said his phone began ringing beginning in the fifth round during the 2009 NFL Draft. In the end, he chose the Vikings from among 16 teams who expressed interest in signing him. Reportedly received a $7,500 signing bonus.

Positives: Smart, gritty, tough, competitive. Very capable of learning quickly and making the line calls. Good initial quickness. Gets into his blocks nicely and sustains well. Good lateral agility. Understands leverage and positioning. Solid zone blocker. Polished technician. Demonstrates good footwork.

Negatives: Average natural size and strength. Struggles to anchor, especially against bigger, power-type defensive tackles. More of a position/technique/finesse-type blocker who will likely always lack bulk.

Summary: Cooper is naturally undersized but a good fit for Minnesota's blocking scheme, and he is smart enough to ramp up quickly and adapt to the pro game mentally. He may or may not begin the year on the practice squad but it would not be surprising at all if he sticks with the team as a rookie.

What they said:

"I'm really in a good situation. I'm really pleased with how things turned out. There were other teams that only had one center. But I worked out with Minnesota on my Pro Day, and I've talked with the coaches. It seems like a good fit." -Cooper

"Has a chance to play alongside two strong guards if he is not asked to provide much more than directional help but always will struggle to handle massive wide-bodies. A good, functional football player with size and strength limitations. Cooper would fit best in a zone-blocking scheme similar to the one in which he excelled at Oklahoma." - Nolan Nawrocki, Pro Football Weekly

"Cooper isn't the physical prototype for an NFL center, but he battles the DT to the whistle on every play. He does everything you ask from a work ethic and intangibles standpoint. He is a tough kid, super strong, and battle tested vs. quality opposition. ... Cooper doesn't have the measureables you look for, but because of his smarts, his experience, and his toughness, he'll get a chance to overcome his lack of ideal size and be a factor at the center position in the NFL." - Mel Kiper, Jr.

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