Overrated or over correction? That’s the conflict that has played out over the last few months in regard to one of the more polarizing prospects this draft season. Full disclosure: I have a small school bias, especially when it comes to the FCS. Sometimes its difficult catching all the major games during the regular season as the majority of them are played on ESPN the Ocho, but I’d say I catch a fair amount, and I absolutely love it. It’s going to sound absurd but I enjoy the FCS Playoffs more than I enjoy the majority of Bowl Games. That being said, of course I’m familiar with, and have over hyped at one time or another, Eastern Washington WR Cooper Kupp. I refuse to apologize for it, but I do feel obligated to give his overall game, in regards to it’s translation to the NFL, an honest look.
In my report on Youngstown St EDGE Derek Rivers, I mentioned that when you look at a small school player, you first want to see above average, consistent production. In 4 years at Eastern Washington, Kupp hauled in 428 receptions for 6,464 yards and 73 TDs. Check that box. He also amassed a plethora of records, including becoming the first wide receiver and just the fourth player overall in the 54-year history of the Big Sky Conference to earn first team All-Big Sky honors four seasons. Kupp was the second WR to win Big Sky Conference Offensive MVP, a feat which he repeated in 2016. To say he excelled against “lesser competition” is a massive understatement.
There is much to like about his game, and much of it will be noted below, but there are also serious questions that he will have to answer at the next level. I’ve pumped him up enough, let’s get to it… one more thing, future HOF wide receiver said he was his top WR in the draft.. okay, seriously, let’s get to it…
Name: Cooper Kupp
Size: 6’2″ / 204
School: Eastern Washington
Comparison: (see Twitter Poll below)
Draft Grade: 4th Round
Combine Results: 40 Yard Dash – 4.62, Vertical Jump – 31″, Broad Jump – 116″, 3 Cone – 6.75, 20 Yard Shuttle – 4.08
Cooper Kupp comp…
— Michael Kist (@MichaelJKist) March 12, 2017
Positives: Extremely productive while drawing lots of attention. Excellent hands; snatches away from frame and can make one-handed circus grabs. Utilizes jab, hop, stutter, and chop well to release and at top of route. Good feel for timing hands vs. press. Dips shoulder at top of route stem to limit effective contact and create separation. Crisp route runner that will not round off and possesses very good change of direction ability. Frequently wins inside release on slants and shields from defender well. Finds soft spots in zone and helps his quarterback during scrambles. Feel for the position; protects against contact and makes first move after catch count. Crafty after the catch and has a nose for the sticks. Toe tap concentration catches litter tape. Hits his landmarks with excellent timing. Tough; played through AC separation in 2016. Willing blocker.
Negatives: Build up speed with limited top-end that will struggle to separate vertically. Consistently stacked and squeezed to sideline on vertical routes from the outside. High pad level early in his routes; susceptible to jams and early contact. Will dance too much vs. off coverage instead of aggressively attacking with speed. Protracted movement in gear down before snapping off route. Will have to move inside at next level. Overaged prospect at 24 years old in June.
Outlook: Kupp will find a home as a WR4 on the depth chart and likely tops out as a decent slot as he acclimates to the speed/nuance of the NFL. Has the starter kit to contribute to any offense that uses multiple WR sets frequently.