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Broncos promising rookie Jonathon Cooper to undergo non-invasive heart procedure, miss rookie camp

Ohio State's "Block O" recipient played at high level with heart condition the past 8 years. Cooper should return to field by start of training camp if not sooner.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — After playing with a heart condition for most of his athletic career, Broncos 7th-round linebacker Jonathon Cooper will undergo a minimally invasive procedure next week to correct the issue.

Cooper is only expected to be sidelined from team activities for a few weeks after the ablation procedure. While that means he will not participate in any in-person activities at the Broncos’ rookie minicamp next weekend, the former Ohio State star is expected to be ready for the start of training camp, if not sooner. Phase III of the Broncos' offseason program from May 24-June 18 includes 10 OTA practices and a three-day veteran minicamp.

>>Video above: Mike Klis 1-on-1 with Broncos GM George Paton after the 2021 NFL Draft

Credit: AP
Ohio State defensive end Jonathon Cooper plays against Michigan in the second half of an NCAA college football game in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Cooper is a remarkable story of perseverance.

He was born two months premature with a caved-in chest on January 8, 1998. It was discovered during his freshman year in high school that he had an irregular, or rapid heartbeat condition known as Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW). He underwent two ablations at the time but finished out his football and basketball career at Lincoln High School in Gahanna, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus. He then played five seasons at Ohio State (receiving a medical redshirt after playing in four games following ankle surgery in his first senior season of 2019), where he was a 6-foot-4, 257-pound defensive end and two-year captain. He was also the first player in school history honored with the “Block O” jersey for "character and selfless leadership qualities."

"It was a difficult time my freshman year (in high school)," Cooper said of heart condition in a Zoom interview with 9NEWS this week. "Ever since I’ve been OK. This recent EKG, I have to figure things out but I feel fine. I should be ready to go very, very soon."

Cooper was projected to go earlier in Day 3 of last weekend’s NFL Draft as an outside linebacker but he may have fell to the Broncos’ 239th overall pick in round 7 because of his recent EKG results. Upon the NFL’s request, Cooper took the EKG a couple days before the draft and the results were sent to all 32 teams late last week.

"I think that kind of hurt my stock," Cooper said.

The Broncos did their due diligence on Cooper’s most recent EKG results. Because Cooper has been able to play eight years at a high level with the heart condition and because the subsequent ablation is considered relatively minor as heart procedures go, the Broncos felt confident in drafting the Ohio State prospect with expectations he can contribute on special teams and competing with Derrek Tuszka and possibly fellow Buckeye linebacker Baron Browning as the No. 4 edge rusher behind Von Miller, Bradley Chubb and Malik Reed.

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