2020 is shaping up to be a big year for Cooper Kupp. It is the last season of his rookie contract. With the notable departures on the offense, the Rams will be looking to Kupp to step into a ‘face of the franchise’ role. One that Todd Gurley occupied for the last few seasons.
He is a worthy and obvious inheritor of that role. Last season was his best so far, he led the team in catches, yards, and touchdowns. What remains to be seen is if he can fill those shoes. Four seasons into his career, Todd Gurley already has some impressive hardware. He was named 2015 Rookie of the Year and was 2017’s Offensive Player of the Year. He was also named first-team All-Pro twice and made the Pro Bowl three times. Kupp has yet to achieve such notoriety.
Why Cooper Kupp Is A Top 5 Receiver In The NFL
The spotlight hasn’t been squarely on Kupp despite his success for a variety of reasons. Number one, he was a third-round pick coming out of Eastern Washington University. Number two, he has always been one among a plethora of offensive talent that overshadowed his contribution. There is the aforementioned, Todd Gurley, but Jared Goff garners a lot of attention and even Sean McVay gets more hype than Kupp does.
He has also played among some bright receiving talent. He played alongside Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, and Brandin Cooks. The Ram’s receivers have had a tendency to get lumped together rather than regarded individually and for good reason, they are all really good. When you compare apples to apples, it’s harder to say if one is better than the others. Although, always take Fuji over Granny Smith.
That said, apart from 2018, Kupp has led the team in several of the major statistical metrics and until the ACL injury that ended his season, Kupp was on track to keep that up in 2018. That injury is another reason that he hasn’t yet been in the conversation for the top 5 receivers in the NFL. Not only did it end his regular season, but Kupp missed the playoffs too. While it would be hard to make the case that if the Rams had Kupp for the Super Bowl that they would have beat the Patriots, it is easy to see that having him on the field certainly wouldn’t’ve made the offense any worse, and potentially could have propelled them past that 3-point barrier.
Kupp has been Goff’s preferred target over the years and PFF has boiled it down a bit further finding that he is Jared Goff’s preferred target on third down, under pressure, and in the red zone.
In the Super Bowl, Jared Goff was under pressure on 17 dropbacks and was in 14 third-down situations. On third down, the Rams threw 13 times, resulting in two sacks, three conversions, and eight incomplete passes leading to punts. Certainly, Jared Goff’s favorite target could have, at the very least, hauled in a few of those catches, not to mention helped move the ball down the field. All that is to say, had Kupp played and came up big, he would be more talked about as a top 5 receiver.
Kupp is in the perfect position to make a big splash this season. He has already earned the trust of his quarterback, he had a career year last season and a contract year is always a good time to show the league just how high your ceiling is.
Certainly, he is a good player, but how does he stack up against the receivers that are already considered to be the best. Last season, he was a modest 12th in yards and ninth in receptions, but he was second in touchdowns and he logged a 70.1 catch percentage which was fifth among wide receivers with over 100 targets. He was also tied for third with 21 receiving plays of 20 yards or more and he was fourth among receivers in yards after the catch. While he hasn’t topped the league in yards or receptions, hauling in 10 TD’s, catching balls being thrown to him, creating big plays, and fighting for extra yards speak volumes about his talent level.
The great news is with the offseason additions and subtractions, he is poised to be a leader on the field and off, he is in the prime of his career having just turned 27 and he has improved consistently year over year. 2020 will be no different. Now with a few extra targets that will be headed his way as Jared Goff gets acquainted with Van Jefferson and works Josh Reynolds into the rotation. This is Kupp’s year to really shine in the spotlight that is now more directly on him. The Rams are also desperately in need of a consistent playmaker. With those additional targets and pressure, he will emerge as a clear cut top 5 receiver.