Jonathon Cooper drafted by Denver in seventh round

Bill Rabinowitz
Buckeye Xtra
Jonathon Cooper, who earned the honor of wearing the first No. 0 "Block O" jersey last year, was selected in the NFL draft on Saturday.

Ohio State defensive end Jonathon Cooper was selected by the Denver Broncos in the seventh round (239th overall pick) of the NFL draft Saturday.

But he might be changing positions.

Cooper worked out as an outside linebacker on Ohio State’s pro day in March, and that’s where he believes where he might have the best chance to stick in the NFL.

“All the teams I've been talking to, they see me as an outside linebacker, Sam-type position, which is my body type,” he said on pro day. “I just wanted to make sure I show the scouts and everybody that I can play linebacker and that I feel really comfortable in space and that I'm ready for the next level.”

If he does play linebacker, another rookie from Ohio State will provide company in his position group. The Broncos drafted Baron Browning with the final pick of the third round on Friday.

Cooper entered Ohio State as a highly touted prospect from Gahanna. But he had to bide his time on a unit of ultra-talented defensive ends and wasn’t as dominant as he hoped early in his career.

He was hoping for a big senior season in 2019, but he injured his ankle late in training camp. He required surgery and was limited when he returned. Cooper had played in three games when he decided to redshirt and return for 2020. That meant he could play in only one more game, and he chose to play against Michigan and not in Ohio State’s postseason.

That sacrifice was one of many reasons Cooper earned immense respect from his coaches and teammates. When the Buckeyes started a tradition of awarding a “Block O” No. 0 jersey in honor of Bill Willis, coach Ryan Day said that Cooper was the obvious choice.

He had 12 tackles last year, including 3½ sacks.

Now he could find himself in a new position in the NFL.

“Jonathon is one of those guys where you can throw him in any situation and he'll adjust quickly,” said former Ohio State linebacker Pete Werner, who was picked in the second round of the draft by New Orleans. “He's very versatile, and he's a great leader. Everybody wants to be around him (and he’s) a great, great football player.”

Brabinowitz@dispatch.com

@brdispatch