You could make a list double digits deep on the amount of small school players that head into the Senior Bowl with “buzz” or high expectations from the draft pundits. But rarely do the majority of these players live up to the hype or high expectations. Often, these small school studs head into the week with lofty goals but find it difficult to replicate the same success they had in college when thrown up against top-tier competition. In fact, most are thrown into a rude awakening as to just how rich the talent in the NFL will be and the drastic change from their lower-level peers.
Cooper Kupp was the exception to the rule. The Eastern Washington standout with NFL bloodlines (both his father and grandfather played in the NFL) put up video game numbers over four years with the Eagles, forcing scouts to pay close attention to the versatile wide receiver.
Kupp put up some of the best production in the country year in and year out and capped his career off with a senior season that amassed 117 receptions, 1,700 yards and 17 touchdowns while dominating his level of competition.
What makes Kupp such an intriguing prospect is the fact he never was the fastest nor the biggest receiver on the field. Instead, the 6-1 wideout consistently won with some of the best route-running and understanding of how to set up his defender in short space I’ve ever seen.
A true master and technician of the position, Kupp treats playing wide receiver like his craft and spends the time needed to master it. Scouts will often find out very early on if successful small school players have what it takes to match up to the best in the nation on the practice field.
Kupp did not disappoint, trusting his technique to set up some of the best cornerbacks of this class and gain enough separation to give him the best chance to succeed on a consistent basis. What I loved from Kupp’s college tape, though, was his ability to be more than just an inside receiver in the slot. Kupp showed toughness and grit as a boundary receiver, which makes it tough to not see a bit of Wes Welker and Eric Decker in his game.
While he won’t be considered a top receiver in this class, it’s now impossible not to include Kupp inside the second tier of wideouts, after guys like Clemson’s Mike Williams and Western Michigan’s Corey Davis.
Getting a chance to talk to Kupp off the field only solidified what I had been told about his great demeanor and ability to pass NFL teams’ interview process. A great competitor, with a laundry list of accolades and production, mixed with arguably the best technique and route-running of his class, it’s hard not to picture Kupp as a top-50 pick when it’s all said and done.