2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Eastern Washington WR Cooper Kupp

From now until the 2017 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.

#10 Cooper Kupp / WR / Eastern Washington: 6’2” 198lbs

The Good:

– Dangerous playmaker after the catch
– Great awareness: understands coverages and field positions
– Reliable hands
– Smooth and Strategic route runner: effectively stems routes to create space, gets in and out of breaks well
– Great Stop-Start Ability
– Good Strength: capable of maintaining speed while breaking tackles

The Bad:

– Played against weak FCS competition
– Average Acceleration off the snap
– Lacks elite top-end speed
– Average Blocker
– Didn’t face a lot of press coverage or re-routing defenses

Bio:

– Career Receiving Stats: 52 starts, 428 receptions (NCAA Record), 6464 yards (NCAA Record) (124.3 avg.), 73 TD (NCAA Record)
– 2015 Walter Payton Award Winner (FCS Heisman), 2013 Jerry Rice Award (Best FCS Freshman Award), 2x Big Sky Offensive Player of the Year, 4x FCS First-Team All-American, 3x Academic All-American
– Son of Craig Kupp (former fifth-round Quarterback selection by the New York Giants) and grandson of Jake Kupp (New Orleans Saints team-Hall of Fame guard)

Film Breakdown:

Cooper Kupp was the college equivalent of Jerry Rice. He holds NCAA records (for both the FBS and FCS) in career receptions, career receiving yards, and career receiving touchdowns. However, his insane statistical production is not the only comparison that can be drawn to Rice. Like Rice, Kupp’s success was not merely the result of superior athletic ability or blazing speed, but instead was also a product of his great football awareness and overall mastery of the nuances of the receiver position.

In this first clip, Kupp uses his precise route-running to beat Oregon’s bracket coverage. Several subtle movements allow this play to be successful. First, Kupp avoids being rerouted by the linebacker by taking an outside release.  He then quickly gets back on top of his route, squares his head/body up-field, and pushes hard to the inside hip of the inside bracket-defender. His stem is so effective that it both freezes the inside-defender AND causes the outside-defender to anticipate an in-breaking route and turn his hips inside.  Kupp takes advantage of these defensive missteps by exploding out of his break, snapping his head back to the quarterback, and working back towards the line of scrimmage. He calmly reacts to the low throw and slides for the reception.  On paper, Oregon should have Kupp’s Out-Route completely locked-down; however, his sound fundamentals allow him to get open and make the catch anyway:

The next play illustrates Kupp’s great field awareness. Here he is running a Slant against Oregon’s Cover 2-Man defense. He runs his pattern on a flat angle, which puts extra stress on the corner and causes him to run hard upfield to make the tackle. Kupp feels the over-pursuit and, while the ball is still in the air and before he has secured the catch, begins positioning his body to pivot back to the outside. Once he completes the reception, Kupp demonstrates his strength by bullying the corner with a vicious stiff-arm all the way to the end zone. His instinctual feel for the game is something that will greatly benefit him at the next level:

Next, Kupp is running a Seam against Washington State’s Cover 2 scheme. He gets a free release, finds the soft spot in the middle of the field behind the linebackers and in front of the safety, and then climbs the ladder to make a critical 3rd down catch in the 4th Notice how, in mid-air, he checks over his shoulder to locate the looming safety, while simultaneously tucking the ball away before he falls to the ground. Great courage while making the reception over the middle and good understanding of the defense’s weak points:

Lastly, this goal line touchdown demonstrates Kupp’s nuanced route-running, as well as his elite catching ability. On the snap, he slow plays his pattern and patiently eats up the corner’s cushion; giving his quarterback the necessary time to get the ball out. Additionally, he saves space on the sideline, which gives his QB the required room to make throw to the back of the end zone. Kupp makes this contested one-handed reception look routine:

Overall, Kupp has the natural ability, technical skills, and the instinctual awareness to be a productive receiver in the NFL. Although he played in the FCS and was not consistently challenged by professional caliber talent, he nevertheless preformed as prolifically as possible in the situations he faced. For example, several of his most productive collegiate games were against FBS teams: at Oregon-245 yards 3 TDs, at Washington State-206 yards 3 TDs, at Washington-145 yards 3 TDs, and at Oregon State-119 yards 2 TDs. He may experience some growing pains as he adapts to the aggressive play in the NFL; however, he certainly has the ability to be contribute as a rookie, especially if he lands on a team with a quality quarterback.

Projection: Day Two

Games Watched: vs Sam Houston State (2014), at Oregon (2015), at Washington State (2016), at Northern Arizona (2016), vs Central Arkansas (2016), vs Richmond (2016)

Previous 2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles
Deshaun WatsonHaason ReddickMarshon LattimoreCorey ClementTim Williams
Jourdan LewisTakkarist McKinleyBrad KaayaNathan PetermanO.J. Howard
Charles HarrisAlvin KamaraTyus BowserDavid NjokuDeMarcus Walker
Chidobe AwuzieDeShone KizerMarlon MackCameron SuttonZach Cunningham
Corey DavisCarl LawsonPatrick MahomesKareem HuntEvan Engram
Derek RiversRyan AndersonJoshua DobbsJordan LeggettSamaje Perine
Corn ElderBucky HodgesJames Conner

About the Author

Sean McKaveney

Sean McKaveney is currently a student at the UCLA School of Law and was formerly the starting Quarterback and Team Captain for Claremont McKenna College, a Top 10 Liberal Arts school in Los Angeles. Although he grew up in Southern California, Sean was raised as a diehard Steelers fan by his father, a Pittsburgh native. The Steelers are undefeated in games that Sean has attended.

  • Bill Sechrengost

    Thanks Sean, great profile. I keep thinking more and more that they might draft a WR earlier than anticipated. I’m not sure that Kupp is the guy. I’d like to see a few more WR profiles to get a better feel for who is available like Zay Jones from East Carolina or Chad Hansen from California. Keep them coming.

  • Spencer Krick

    Great write up! Kupp would certainly be a solid option in the 2nd if the Steelers are inclined to go that way.

  • Steelers12

    pass on drafting a WR before round 5 if we can sign a decent option in free agency for cheap

  • Paddy

    I bet the Hoodie knows who he is by now

  • I was paid 104000 dollars last year by freelancing online a­n­d I did it by working in my own time for several h daily. I was following an earning model I was introduced by this web-site i found on-line and I am excited that i earned so much money on the side. It’s very user friendly and I am just so grateful that i found it. Check out what I did… STATICTAB.COM/r2tyhgi

  • H.K. northern cali

    Kid would like great in black and gold.

  • LucasY59

    Kupp played against FCS opponents but he absolutley dominated them (for 4 yrs) the change to the NFL should not be a problem, I would take guys like him and Corey Davis over Mike Williams (yes Mike is a great athlete and will most likely have a good NFL career) but the production from guys like Cooper and Corey are what make them very safe picks (and since the Steelers already have AB, these are the kind of guys I would be looking at IF the Steelers were to use a early pick on a WR) most likely the Steelers are going to wait until the 3rd or later on a WR so I really dont expect them to have much interest in Kupp (or Davis)

    I am just glad he is moving on to the NFL so I dont have to watch him beat the Grizzlies anymore especially on the horrible red turf at EWU

  • TrappenWeisseGuy ;

    True. This kid reminds me of the way nearly all of us had to play the position. That is with as much guile,smarts, awareness and deception as possible to make plays and avoid getting killed.

  • NinjaMountie

    Montana fan! Nice!

  • Steelking406

    Black n gold In Kalispell!!!

  • Burgh Ball

    U of M grad.. Loved my time in Missoula…

  • Sdale

    ESG GCG 🙂

  • LucasY59

    he beat the kitty cats just as much as the Griz

  • Rotten Sircus

    I like the kid but We’re set at the WR position. I got us going all defense in this 2017 draft at least the first 3 rounds !!!

  • Shane Mitchell

    We are????????? Currently, we are set at the #5 WR position thats about it.

  • Shane Mitchell

    Profile request -WR John Ross, Washington

  • Andrew

    If for some reason he’s there in the third, I would jump on that like no ones business. He could be a stud with Ben

  • Kevin Reich

    He’s white. That will allow him to last until day 3.

  • TrappenWeisseGuy ;

    The problem is they take guys based on their body types and athleticism and don’t care whether they can actually catch the ball,run routes, have brains and a work ethic.

  • LucasY59

    they do have a certain type they look for and its hard to argue with their results (I would say it is the best position they are able to consistently find quality players at, but they do have to replace them fairly often, which is a whole nother conversation)

    I think the production could open their eyes even if the measurables dont (but I expect the measurables to be pretty decent otherwise there wouldnt be quite as much production) either way I still dont anticipate him being much of a target since he will go earlier than they will want to use a draft pick (think he goes in the top 10 picks of the 2nd, so Steelers would have to use their 1st to get him…)

  • Sdale

    Probably more. Our D has been sooo bad the last few years.

  • Chad H

    Say what? Our depth has ? marks all over it.

  • TrappenWeisseGuy ;

    Yeah,there’s no way they’d spend a first on him. I’d be surprised if they don’t take a reciever at some point though given the uncertainty with MB, Wheaton and the guy with broken butterfingers.I just wish they’d take a more finished product than they have been taking (the kind that do more than look good with their shirt off) but if he’s a mid/later pick it will likely be another size/speed project.

  • LucasY59

    there is actually fairly good draft depth at WR this yr (more than I thought initially) but you are right it would likely be a project guy

  • Brieon Brown

    Nice I would like to see how Kupp is against the press. I would also like the following player to have a draft player profile:
    Marcus Williams
    Lorenzo Jerome
    Tedric Thompson
    Ahkello Witherspoon
    Elijah Lee
    Dev’on Smith
    Zay Jones
    Tareon Folston

  • If he hit the weight room he’d look like a Jordy Nelson clone. Definitely like what this guy brings. I’ll remember his name draft day for sure. I know the obvious choice is NE, but I bet the pack will take a long look at this kid.

  • Piratte fan 4 life

    would love to see scout report on WR Mack Hollins, North Carolina and WR Jerome Lane, Akron