2016-Present

Los Angeles Rams’ WR Cooper Kupp could emerge as the team’s top receiver

The Los Angeles Rams selected WR Cooper Kupp out of Eastern Washington University with the 69th pick in the 3rd round of the NFL Draft. Not many people know who Kupp is unless they live on the west coast, watch Pac-12 Football or the All-Big Sky Conference. I’m excited that the Rams drafted Kupp and I will show you why later in the article.

The Rams have been missing a true, pass catching wide receiver. That may sound weird since that’s what wide receivers are supposed to do. However, look at how many drops the Rams’ receiving corps have had in recent years and you will understand.

 

There hasn’t been a more prolific pass-catcher in Football Championship Subdivision history. Kupp set all-time records in total receptions (428), receiving yards (6,464), and receiving touchdowns (73). He is the son of a former NFL player (Craig was a fifth-round pick in 1990) and grandson of a New Orleans Saints Hall of Famer (Jake was an offensive lineman in the NFL from 1964-75).

He won just about every award he could win in his four years with the EWU. His trophy room includes the Jerry Rice Award as the top FCS freshman when he started all 15 games, making 93 catches for 1,691 yards and 21 touchdowns. As a sophomore, Kupp was an All-American receiver, third-team punt returner and Academic All-American. He won the same awards again in 2015, in addition to the Walter Payton Award as the FCS’s best player as he led the nation in all three major categories (114 receptions-1,642 yards, 19 TD). He was once again the best receiver in the FCS in 2016. He led all wide receivers with 117 receptions, 1,700 receiving yards, and 17 receiving touchdowns in another consensus All-American season.

His statistics over his four-year span at EWU were very impressive:

RECEIVING TEAM GP REC YDS AVG YDS/G LNG TD 100+
2013 EWU 15 93 1691 18.2 112.7 63 21 8
2014 EWU 13 104 1431 13.8 110.1 61 16 7
2015 EWU 11 114 1642 14.4 149.3 78 19 8
2016 EWU 13 117 1700 14.5 130.8 75 17 8

 

He put up over 6,400 yards in his four-year career at EWU. He’s made guys like CB Kevin King (Pick 33), S Budda Baker (Pick 36) and CB Sidney Jones IV (Pick 46) struggle to cover him. Go watch the film against the Washington Huskies and the Oregon Ducks and you will see what I mean.

 

When you have a young, inexperienced quarterback like Jared Goff, it is important to have receivers that he can depend on. He needs to be able to throw to a spot and know that a receiver is going to be there. Kupp measures in at 6-foot-2, 204 lbs and is an amazing, dependable route-runner who will be where he is supposed to be. He also seems to catch every ball thrown in his direction. This is going to help Goff to become a better quarterback.

 

If you’ve watched Kupp over the years, you know he has great hands and tremendous after the catch abilities. If you haven’t had the privilege to watch him, look at the videos in this article.

I have no doubt, given some time to acclimate to the NFL, that Kupp will become one of the Rams’ top wide receivers in the next few years. He will join Tavon Austin, Robert Woods, Nelson Spruce, Pharoh Cooper, Bradley Marquez, Mike Thomas, Brandon Shippen, Shakeir Ryan, Marquez North, Paul McRoberts and fellow draft pick Josh Reynolds in training camp and OTA’s this season. But, do not be surprised if Kupp moves all the way to the top of the depth chart.

 

The Rams will likely keep six to seven wide receivers on their roster in 2017. I believe that Kupp, Austin, Woods, Spruce, Cooper and Reynolds will make the squad. If they keep another wide receiver or two, Thomas and Marquez have the edge up to this point.

Austin is listed as the No. 1 wide-out for the Rams after the team made the decision to reward him with a hefty four-year, $42 million extension last year. For a player coming off a career high of 509 receiving yards in 2016, it’s surprising to me that Austin is making this type of money when looking at his lack of production. I’m not denying that his speed and after the catch ability are awesome, but he has issues catching the football.

It would not surprise me to see Kupp take over that No. 1 spot and move Austin down the depth chart. If this happens, what does that mean for Austin and that $42 million contract? It means that Austin will likely be traded down the line if this happens. I know it’s early to make this kind of prediction, but time will tell.

Regardless, the Rams’ picked up a great football player and if everything goes right, Kupp will help the Rams to win games.

Norm Hightower has been following the Rams for 48 years. You can follow Norm on Twitter @normhightower or on Facebook. Be sure to follow Rams Talk on Twitter @TalkRams.

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