WR Cooper Kupp, E. Washington

One can measure the size and speed of an athlete, but there is no measure for heart. NFL prospects that come from FCS schools have the cards stacked against them and most of the time for good reason. The competition is weaker and the teams are laced with 1 and 2 star recruits, but that’s no reason to overlook a special talent. Names like Jerry Rice, Jared Allen, and Randy Moss come to mind – even though Marshall was only a Division I-AA school for Moss’ freshman season.

The NFL is littered with FCS talents today and most recently, a running back from Northern Iowa by the name of David Johnson took the league by storm. In this past draft, Carson Wentz, the former QB of the reigning FCS national champs, was drafted number 2 overall. There is definitely talent in college football’s lower division; we just have to find it. That brings me to my next prospect:

Cooper Kupp
Eastern Washington University
RSr Wide Receiver
6’2″ 205 lbs.
Kupp grew up in Yakima, Washington, where he attended Davis High School. He is going to be the 3rd generation of his family to play in the NFL. Both his grandfather and father played at the pro level. I can see Kupp having a longer career than both. He has had an amazing college career up to this point with a ton of accolades and awards. He has been named to the FCS All-American 1st team three times with his first of those coming as a freshman. To put that into perspective, the last freshman wide receiver to become an FCS 1st team All-American was Randy Moss. In 2015, Kupp also received the Walter Payton Award, which highlights the most outstanding offensive player at the FCS level. He received the Jerry Rice Award in 2013 which is the FCS’ most outstanding freshman of the year. Kupp redshirted as a true freshman and over his past 3 seasons he has managed to rack up 311 receptions, 4,764 receiving yards, and 56 touchdowns.
Based on his production, if he is able to stay healthy, by year’s end he will own the career records for all 3 phases at the D-I level. To conclude his junior year Kupp was named the Big Sky Conference Offensive MVP. He decided to return for his senior season in hopes of bolstering his draft stock and making his case as one of the nation’s best receiving threats.
Positives
I had a chance to watch Kupp as a senior in high school and knew right away that he was a special talent. While looking at MaxPreps, I saw that he had committed to Eastern Washington University and I have watched him closely ever since. He has carried the label as EWU’s WR1 since his freshman year and rightfully so. Each year I have seen progression in his strength, burst and route running ability. He has an elite set of hands and makes a ton of tough catches look routine. His ability to set up defenders with his routes is second to none in this year’s class. He has very fluid hips and gets in and out of his breaks without ever losing a step. One of the most frustrating things for a defender is playing the hip of a receiver perfectly only to get burned on a dig or an out route, and Kupp is extremely polished in that area. He is not afraid to go over the middle and sacrifice his body to keep the chains moving. He is not only a possession guy as he is able to eat up the space when facing off-coverage as well as produce a ton of yards after the catch.
One thing I really like about Kupp is his footwork and ability to beat press coverage with his technique at the line of scrimmage. In this first clip you will see him showcase his footwork at the LOS along with his ability to set up a defender on his break which leaves him wide open.
Kupp absolutely torched the Oregon Ducks, his only 2015 competition, with 15 catches for 246 yards and 3 touchdowns. I know the Ducks don’t have the best secondary but he showcased his talent on a big stage and proved that he can play with anyone. When Kupp has the ball in his hands, he has very good vision and cutting ability. He’s able to stop on a dime and use his awareness and vision to find green grass. On top of that, I’m in awe of his route tree. One of the most important aspects of the game for a WR is obviously route running. When you are able to run every route in the book it will definitely prolong your career. He has a great double move and often leaves the defender on skates. Kupp has that refuse-to-lose mentality and will fight for every single yard possible. Add that to his supreme ball skills and he comes down with jump ball more often than not. I like his build and athleticism. I honestly think he has the skill set to be a special talent at the next level.

Here’s another clip from the Oregon game which shows Kupp fighting for every yard in an attempt to score a TD, which was eventually overturned and downed at the 3-yard line. This is the kind of heart that I like to see from a WR, his every yard mentality paid off for a huge gain because he didn’t want to take the easy road and run out of bounds.

It’s safe to say that Kupp plays like a man amongst boys at the FCS level. He is an absolute playmaker who can play both inside and outside. He can beat you with power, technique, and agility; he has the tools of a top prospect. I am looking forward to his senior season and more touchdowns like this:

Negatives

Although Kupp is a dominating force at the FCS level, I don’t want to crown him just yet. Nevertheless, he is very special and shows you everything you want to see in a player coming out of that division. The production and technique are there but I want to see more. EWU starts off the season against an FBS opponent in Washington State but after that it’s back to FCS ball. On film, Kupp does look to have decent football speed, but I’m not sure how he will test when the combine comes around. He’ll have a target on his back this year and should see even more double coverage. I’m interested to see how he responds and if he can beat it on a consistent basis.

Kupp can beat press coverage with his footwork and agility although, I haven’t seen him use his hands properly and that could become a problem against the bigger corners in the NFL. To this point, Kupp has compiled a ton of explosive plays in college but I’m not sure how well it will translate in the pros. He is quick and agile but he might not possess the breakaway speed you want to see against faster and stronger opponents. Ultimately, one of the biggest areas he will need to work on is speed. However, a ton of shifty WR’s with great route running have made a killing in the NFL so I’m not too worried. I have seen him make a ton of body catches but only when the situation called for it. This year will be very telling as to what Kupp really is and I’m looking forward to watching more film as it’s released.

Conclusion

All in all, I can see Kupp being a dangerous slot WR in the NFL. Right now, I wouldn’t call on him to be my top guy at the next level, but he definitely looks like he can develop into a great ball player. I currently have him rated as my WR6 in the 2017 class and a huge sleeper in Devy leagues. More than likely, no one will be after him right now, but his stock will be trending upward come the end of this season. In my most recent Devy, I needed a QB, WR, and a TE. I had very little money for the auction so I set my sights on a few guys I could obtain towards the end. At WR, I set my sights on Jehu Chesson and Cooper Kupp. When the time came, I ended up going with Chesson in hopes that I will be able to get Kupp in the 2017 rookie auction. He is someone to look out for and with his awareness, route running, and understanding of the game he can come in and contribute right away.

Thanks for reading. You can follow me on Twitter @pacificscouting.

lawrence_chaney

North West born and raised. Sports are everything to me. Took up scouting a few years back and fell in Love with it. Try my best to use the knowledge I have to contribute to the Devy section for DFF.

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