Draft Daily: Can EWU's Cooper Kupp be more than just a slot receiver?
Pro Football Focus’ Draft Daily will hit on a number of NFL Draft-related topics including recent news, scouting reports, PFF draft takes, and much more on a frequent basis.
Cooper Kupp more than just a slot receiver?
Our analysts’ takes have been running hot in the last two weeks, and will likely continue to do so as we pump out more prospect reports. Analyst Bryson Vesnaver recently sat down to evaluate Eastern Washington receiver Cooper Kupp, and had an interesting opinion on how he projects him to be utilized in the NFL.
My only exposure to Kupp thus far has been Senior Bowl practices, but based solely on his body of work that week, I’m inclined to agree with Bryson. He showed the ability not just to run every route on the tree efficiently, but he was able to consistently create separation on his own, which is essential for outside receivers. This being said, the vast majority of his work in 2016 was from the slot. 438 of his 514 routes run were from the slot, and 125 of his 151 targets came from a slot alignment. From that position, he racked up a ridiculous 99 catches for 1315 yards and 11 touchdowns, albeit against lesser competition. He likely alleviated concerns about his college competition level at Senior Bowl week, however, as he was one of the standout performers of the week, regardless of position.
Stories from the combine
Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Odell Beckham Jr., Brandin Cooks, Kelvin Benjamin, Marqise Lee, Jordan Matthews, Davante Adams, Allen Robinson, and Jarvis Landry: the 2014 wide receiver class was absolutely loaded, and seeing all of them on the field at the same time during their workouts with the quarterbacks is one of my favorite memories in my nine years of attending the combine.
At the time, the headliner was Watkins, who of course was the first receiver selected in the class, fourth overall by Buffalo after a trade with Cleveland. While he certainly looked the part on the field, Beckham was the clear star of the show during on-field workouts.
While his workout measurements were excellent, nothing he posted put him in elite standing. It was his route-running and catching that helped him stand out, as he seemed to run every drill at full speed, with an unmatched level of fluidity and efficiency. Much of the rest of the talent blended together in this portion of the workout, all on a comparable level, but clearly not able to match the standard Beckham blazed in front of them.
Much is said every year (and rightfully so) about not overstating the field portion of the combine, as the medical checks and interviews are the most important aspects of the week for teams and prospects alike. However, it was clear to me and the rest of the small collection of media (as well as the New York Giants) lucky enough to be in one of Lucas Oil Stadium’s boxes that we had just witnessed greatness that would immediately translate to Sundays.
Scouting report for Florida CB Teez Tabor
In what is clearly a loaded cornerback class, Florida’s Teez Tabor may be the best of the group. Tabor checks off all the boxes for height, weight and speed, playing with the physicality expected of a corner of his size, but the athleticism of a much smaller prospect. With a career QB passer rating against of just 41.2, he was a consistent performer at Florida, and in all likelihood, will be a top-15 pick in April.
From the ‘My guys’ list
Analyst John Breitenbach on Tulane DT Tanzel Smart
Not much of Tanzel Smart’s profile appears promising on paper. Tulane won only four games this year in the AAC, and at only a shade over 6-foot, he’ll be considered short by NFL standards. Yet Smart’s quality is obvious even despite his level of competition and height. His quickness off the ball is an asset at any level, and the low center of gravity helps him punish blockers with the bull rush. Smart’s 47 combined QB pressures top the table amongst draft-eligible interior defenders (assuming Alabama’s Jonathan Allen is labelled an edge defender). A solid showing at the Senior Bowl only further alleviated concerns over a weak schedule. Smart sits towards the top of the class in a thin group of explosive defensive tackles, and should expect to hear his name on Day 2.
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