Los Angeles Rams WR Cooper Kupp was an interesting case study in player evaluation as he worked through the pre-draft process. The question I continued to ask myself, as I saw evaluators with wildly different opinions of him, was “overrated or over correction?”
After former Carolina Panthers/Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. called him the best receiver in the draft at the NFL Combine, the gulf between differing Kupp opinions widened even further.
Full disclosure: I have a small school bias, especially when it comes to the FCS. It can be 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 was familiar with Kupp and likely over hyped at one time or another. I wouldn’t apologize for it at the time and I won’t now, especially with him being a valuable contributor for the Rams.
When you look at a small school player, you first want to see above average, consistent production. In four 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.
Like many others, he first caught my eye when Eastern Washington played Oregon in their 2015 season opener. In that game, Kupp went off for 15 receptions, 246 yards, and 3 touchdowns. How could you not put him on your radar after a performance like that?
He would go on to be drafted by the Rams in the 3rd round with the 69th overall pick, which despite my affinity for his game, I felt was slightly early. Why? Well, that’s why we’re here.
What follows is my scouting report for Kupp as a college prospect. It’s formatted and worded much different than the previous evaluations, having been written before the Scouting Academy deconstructed and reconstructed my scouting brain. Either way, I still feel strongly about the points made and believe they still hold water. Enjoy.
Name: Cooper Kupp
Size: 6’2″ / 204
School: Eastern Washington
Draft Grade: Early 4th Round
Combine Results: 40 Yard Dash – 4.62, Vertical Jump – 31″, Broad Jump – 116″, 3 Cone – 6.75, 20 Yard Shuttle – 4.08
Extremely productive despite extra attention. Utilizes jab, hop, stutter, and chop well to release and at top of route. Good feel for timing hands vs. press. Frequently wins inside release on slants and shields from defender well.
Dips shoulder at top of route stem to limit disruptive contact and consistently creates separation with nods. Crisp route runner; clean out of breaks and possesses very good change of direction ability. Hits his landmarks with excellent timing. Finds soft spots in zone and helps his quarterback during scrambles.
Excellent hands; snatches away from frame and can make one-handed circus grabs. Toe tap concentration catches litter tape.
Feel for the position; protects against incoming contact and makes intelligent first moves after the catch for extra yards. Has a nose for the sticks both as a route runner and as a ball-carrier.
Competitor that shows up in big moments and has the mental toughness to not compound mistakes. Physically tough; played through AC separation in 2016. Willing blocker.
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 get moved off the spot by bigger/aggressive defensive backs.
Occasionally dances too much early in stem vs. off coverage instead of aggressively attacking with speed and occasionally displays protracted movements gearing down into break when capped.
Will have to move inside at next level. Overaged prospect at 24 years old in June.
Kupp will find an immediate 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.
— FCS Football (@NCAA_FCS) November 27, 2017
Kupp has largely been used as suggested in this report, running 202 of his 343 routes from the slot. He has exceeded my expectations in production, landing in the top 12 for slot wide receivers in yards run per route (1.77) and QB rating for all receivers when targeted (102.1) while posting a 51-665-3 stat line.
Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Patrick Robinson will be tasked with covering Kupp. Robinson ranks 10th among nickel corners (when playing vs slot) in yards per coverage snap (0.84) while only allowing a league leading 56.4 QB Rating when targeted. The Eagles will need him to put the clamp on to get off the field on third downs.
Matchups to watch in Cleveland
On today’s Locked On Eagles:
A look at the key matchups for Sunday’s matchup with the Cleveland Browns.
How will the Eagles defend the Nick Chubb-Kareem Hunt backfield?
Is this the game Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz finally get things right?
Wentz Wednesday: Week 11
On today’s Locked On Eagles:
Carson Wentz went from looking like Jameis Winston all year to Sam Bradford on Sunday
Evaluating the inconsistencies in Wentz’s throwing mechanics that were apparent against New York
Wentz deserves blame without always steering the attention to Doug Pederson and Howie Roseman
Doug and Howie on the hot seat?
On today’s Locked On Eagles:
Even in a first place position…..it is time to think big picture with the Eagles
Are Doug Pederson and Howie Roseman safe beyond 2020?
Should Jeffery Lurie continue to be patient or is a shake-up needed?