Senior Bowl standout Cooper Kupp fits an area of need for the Buccaneers. A sleeper on the rise could really impact the Buccaneers come draft night.
Last week I talked about a sleeper in Zay Jones, who had stellar Senior Bowl, and his teammate Cooper Kupp has also been on the rise. With the draft still three months away the Buccaneers have plenty of time to address the wide receiver position. If they decide to hold off and address the position in the draft Cooper Kupp out of Eastern Washington could be the way to go. The Buccaneers have been highly invested in the Senior Bowl lately, Noah Spence and Ali Marpet, and with the receivers coming out this year they should continue the streak.
Cooper Kupp grew up in Yakima, Washington where he graduated from Davis High School. Cooper was a two sport star playing basketball and football. While a good basketball player he was a much better football player. Kupp was a two-way All-State selection earning first team 4A All-State honors as a corner and a receiver. Recording 22 touchdowns in his senior season he finished his high school career with 110 catches for 2100 yards. Being a 4.0 honors student Kupp could’ve gone many place for academics but he decided to stay in state where he got a full ride to play football at Eastern Washington.
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As a true freshman he redshirted. He didn’t just sit around though he was selected as the Eastern’s Offensive Scout Team Player of the Year. As a red shirt freshman Kupp exploded on to the scene setting numerous records. Kupp recorded 1691 yards receiving, 21 touchdowns, on 93 receptions. He also set the record for most consecutive games with a touchdown catch at 14. As a consensus first team All-American, Kupp was the first freshman since Randy Moss in 1996. With his stellar performance he won the Jerry Rice Award for best freshman in college football. With his strong freshman campaign Kupp was riding high into his sophomore season.
As a sophomore Kupp’s hot streak continued. With 104 catches for 1,431 and 16 touchdowns in 13 games. Stats good enough to be an All-American for the second consecutive year. He also received 3rd team honors as a punt returner. In his junior year the sensational career continued as he broke the Big Sky single season record for receptions with 114 in only 11 games. 1,642 yards and 19 touchdowns to go with all his receptions led him to being named Big Sky MVP. He also won the Walter Payton award for most outstanding offensive football player.
After his junior year he contemplated entering the NFL draft but decided against it. He stayed on for his senior season where he would become the FCS Triple Crown leader in all three major receiving categories for a college career. He turned it up in his final campaign hauling in 117 passes for 1,700 yards and 17 touchdowns. Kupp must have really liked the number 17 that year. Finishing his Eastern Washington career as the FCS leader in receptions, 428, yards, 6,464, and touchdowns, 73. Not bad records to have no matter what conference you are in.
Coming in at 6’2″ 215 pounds Kupp isn’t the biggest or fastest receiver but has some of the best hands in the 2017 draft. Coming out of a lower conference league Cooper Kupp may end up being a day two steal if he is still available come draft day. After his performance at the Senior Bowl he may be soaring up teams draft boards.
I’d say his pro comparison is a very raw Larry Fitzgerald. Both of them are similarly sized, don’t have the fastest speed, but can catch almost anything that comes his way. Now Larry Fitzgerald is a future Hall of Famer and I’m not saying Kupp is going to come into the league and be that skilled but in the proper situation and some development he is capable of making all the plays. Cooper needs time to make the jump from the FCS to the NFL.
The Buccaneers have had some good luck drafting players from smaller schools that made a name for themselves in the Senior Bowl. Noah Spence was a big name player from Ohio State before he had to play at Eastern Kentucky but Ali Marpet played at Hobart. Hobart is a division three school but Marpet made a smooth transition into the NFL. If Kupp can make the transition like Marpet did he will have a successful NFL career. If the Buccaneers feel like they can mold him into an NFL star they could really use him as a number two receiver next to Mike Evans.