Draft Daily: How WR prospect Cooper Kupp is proving the value of all-star game practices
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 and the value of all-star game practices
One obstacle to evaluating draft prospects is that the talent level across college football varies greatly. Evaluators know that a prospect’s level of competition needs to be considered when trying to get the overall picture of the player. As a result, an evaluator might lend more credence to a player’s performance against a Power-5 team than they would against a smaller school with arguably less talent. The disparity in level of competition across college football makes the college all-star games and practices great opportunities to evaluate how prospects handle the best competition.
For an FCS prospect like Eastern Washington wide receiver Cooper Kupp, the chance to go one-on-one with the top cornerbacks in the nation was a rare opportunity that he seized at the Senior Bowl. Kupp performed well against the top cornerbacks in one-on-one drills in Senior Bowl practices, finishing with eight catches on 14 targets, including three touchdowns and the third-best win percentage among the wide receivers. Kupp’s performance showed evaluators that, although he came from a smaller program, his play belongs at the next level.
For the last two years, Pro Football Focus has partnered with the Senior Bowl and sent a large contingent of analysts to observe practices and to break down the game’s film afterwards. Our crew not only graded team portions of the event, but the one-on-one match-ups, as well. This valuable information used by the NFL is only available in PFF Draft Pass, available now.
Ranking the best prospects by position
The PFF analysis team has been hard at work examining hundreds of prospects for the draft. Our analysts have been breaking down the top prospects at each position group in the draft class over the past two weeks. Catch up with all of the position group breakdowns here:
- Offensive line
- Wide receivers
- Tight ends
- Running backs
- Defensive interior
- Edge defenders
- Kickers and punters
PFF Draft takes
Christian McCaffrey is one of the better running backs in this draft class, and if he was just a receiver, he would probably be a second-round pick. McCaffrey’s ability to play receiver at such a high-level is what pushed him over the top for me. His skill-set will allow his offensive coordinator to easily shift from one-back to empty formations, and McCaffrey can be moved around to exploit favorable mismatches. McCaffrey can make an impact on a team’s passing game, running game and return game in a way that few players are capable of.
From the PFF ‘My Guys’ list
At 6-foot-1, 243 pounds, Utah edge rusher Pita Taumoepenu isn’t exactly the ideal size for a starting defensive end in the NFL. However, his on-the-field production as a pass-rusher the last two seasons is impressive. In 2015, he played in a reserve role, but recorded five sacks, five hits and 14 hurries on 102 pass-rushing snaps from the right side for a very impressive pass-rushing productivity mark of 18.3, one of the higher marks in the nation on a per-snap basis. That amount of production on limited snaps caught our attention and created an internal discussion at PFF.
Our conclusion? Taumoepenu could be a productive pass-rusher in a larger role if given the opportunity.
In 2016 that opportunity came, and Taumoepenu notched 10 sacks, nine QB hits and 33 hurries on 382 pass-rushing snaps. Taumoepenu’s playing style, production and tenacity all indicate that he could have value in the NFL as a rotational pass-rush specialist who can play valuable and productive snaps while the starters rest up for key game moments.
PFF scouting report
Here is the PFF scouting report on San Diego State CB Damontae Kazee. He’s physical and stingy in coverage, with great ball skills and a combined 15 interceptions and six pass breakups over the last two seasons.
PFF Draft Podcast
The PFF Draft Podcast continues to roll out this draft season. In addition to our weekly draft shows, we have also had analysts dissect individual players for PFF podcast shorts. These shorts are a great way to quickly get stats and information on top prospects, or to get more in-depth information about a prospect of interest. PFF podcast shorts are already up for Christian McCaffrey, Malik McDowell, Jamal Adams, Malik Hooker, Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. We will have plenty more of these PFF shorts on individual prospects as we move closer to the draft. Subscribe and stay informed.