Cooper Kupp Has Changed How Teams Rank Small-School Wide Receivers
Cooper Kupp is coming off a record-breaking season, a season which was capped off with winning a Super Bowl and being named the big game’s Most Valuable Player. The Ram’s wide receiver’s season is now in the argument of the best single-season performance for a wide receiver in NFL history. He earned nearly 2000 yards and 16 touchdowns in the regular season.
In the playoffs, he had 478 yards and six touchdowns. His playoff totals alone would rank decently with plenty of depth rookies over the course of an entire season. Put simply, the wide receiver raised the standard for what is possible from the position.
However, Rams fans are not the only ones to notice the breakout star. Even just a few months after the star’s explosive final outing, teams began to pivot how they value their pass-catchers. Massive deals were granted to Tyreek Hill, Davante Adams, Stefon Diggs, and A.J. Brown this offseason.
Of course, some may say connecting Cooper Kupp to these massive paydays when he himself has not gotten his breakout reward is loose at best.
On the other hand, these teams paying their wide receivers big money could have been an effort to get in front of the highly likely earth-shattering payday Kupp could land. Putting that point aside, there’s a better connection that can be made concerning one selection by the Green Bay Packers in the 2022 NFL Draft.Wide receiver Christian Watson was selected by the Green Bay Packers in the second round of the draft. The biggest key between these two players is they both come from the FCS.
In fact, Watson’s alma mater, North Dakota State, played Cooper Kupp’s alma mater, Eastern Washington, in the national championship shortly after Cooper Kupp landed in the NFL.
Cooper Kupp was selected in the third round of the NFL Draft with the 69th overall pick, according to Pro Football Reference. Christian Watson was selected in the second round at 34th overall, according to PFF. Looking at the college production of both receivers, it is clear that Kupp was a steal and Watson was a comparative reach.According to the NCAA’s website, in college, Kupp earned at least 1,400 yards and 16 touchdowns in each season. Meanwhile, according to Player Profiler, Watson’s best season saw him earn 801 yards and seven touchdowns.
Kupp’s best season dwarfed Watson’s, earning 1,700 yards and 17 touchdowns in his final college season. In other words, Kupp’s college production should have earned him a much higher draft selection, but that is an understatement. Kupp was the trailblazer for small school talent.
Without Cooper Kupp’s record-setting season in 2021, the Green Bay Packers would not have drafted an FCS wide receiver nearly in the first round. Even if they had, they would have left pundits scratching their heads in bewilderment. Without Kupp, Watson would have slipped deep down the draft board.
Basically, the wide receivers who earned massive deals might want to thank Cooper Kupp for their windfall, but Christian Watson and future FCS wide receivers should absolutely thank Kupp for elevating respect for those coming out of the sub-FBS leagues.