Cooper Kupp is probably the most underrated wide receiver in college football heading into the 2016 NFL Draft. He was extremely underscouted coming out of high school; rather than spending his college career in a top program, he found himself playing wide receiver for the Eastern Washington University Eagles. Once there, he set college football on fire. How good has Cooper Kupp been for Eastern Washington? In two fewer games than Jerry Rice, he managed to catch more passes, generate more receiving yards, and score more touchdowns than the greatest wide receiver in NFL history. When Kupp leaves the FCS behind for the NFL, he will do so with possession of most, if not all, FCS receiving records. Kupp was criminally overlooked by FBS teams coming out of high school. This coming spring, he may still be overlooked; Walter Football has him projected as a 4th through 6th round pick. Meanwhile, CBS Sports has him projected as a 3rd rounder. Given Kupp's talent, I will be stunned if he is still there on day 3 of the NFL Draft. I would actually consider drafting him in the second round depending on how the WR board falls.That being said, his best fit is probably in the 3rd.
Kupp comes from a solid NFL bloodline. His paternal grandfather, Jake Kupp made the Pro Bowl as a left guard during a 12 year NFL career spent mainly with the New Orleans Saints. His father, Craig Kupp, was drafted by the New York Giants in the 5th round of the 1990 NFL Draft as a quarterback. Cooper Kupp will likely be the third member of his family drafted this spring. How good is Kupp? His highlight reels are stellar. When you put on the film, he looks the part of an NFL receiver. Here are some highlights. Care to argue that that athletic talent and all those big plays are solely the result of Kupp playing in the Big Sky Conference? Let's look at him against FBS teams. Here's Cooper Kupp playing against Washington State. Kupp had a pretty solid game, with 12 receptions for 206 yards and 3 TD, one pass completed for 22 yards, and 2 rushes for 29 rushing yards. He became the all-time leader in FCS receiving touchdowns on a 7 yard touchdown reception in that game, bringing him to 59. If that game doesn't convince you, he also put up 246 receiving yards and 3 touchdown receptions against Oregon in week 1 of the 2015 NFL season (here's the film to prove it). Kupp dominates any opponent he faces, and will thrive in the NFL in the right situation.
What is the right situation for Cooper Kupp? I think he fits perfectly as a #2 WR in an NFL offense. He is one of most high-character, hardest workers in college football according to those around him, and that will benefit him as he heads towards an NFL career. His floor is that of a Brian Hartline-type player. He'll garner lots of receptions and make the occasional big play while generating respectable amounts of yardages in the NFL. I don't see him as a prototype #1 WR yet, but he works hard to develop his own craft. His weaknesses are minor; occasionally he will let a ball fall into his body as he catches it, and occasionally he will struggle to unglue himself from defenders at the top of routes. That being said, it is obvious that Kupp is working hard to improve those areas of his game. While these are things that he will continue to work on in the NFL, if he begins as a #2 WR, he will have the advantage of not working against a team's top defensive back. That will help him immensely early in his career as he continues to improve as a player.
I've gushed over Kupp's numbers a bit already, but how good are they? In 42 career games, Kupp has 340 receptions for 5143 yards (a 15.1 yard per reception average) and 61 touchdowns. He's also rushed 9 times for 56 yards. As a passer (just for fun), Kupp is 3 for 4 with a 75.0 % completion percentage and 67 yards passing. Two of those three completions went for touchdowns. While Brian Hartline might be a floor for Kupp, he also reminds me of players such as Julian Edelman and Mohamed Sanu. Kupp is an offensive weapon that, while not a prototypical #1 WR, will add some very nice versatility to any offensive system. That only increases his value.
Cooper Kupp, then, is a likely day 2 prospect who is currently being largely overlooked by many sports sites. If you haven't had a chance to watch Eastern Washington yet this season, use Kupp as your excuse. While he may not have the NFL success that Jerry Rice did (it's possible, but implausible, for any good college receiver to duplicate what Jerry Rice did in the NFL), Kupp will likely have a productive NFL career, and could hear his name called as early as the 3rd round of the 2017 NFL draft. He will be an asset to whatever team selects him in 2017.--Mike B.
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