E. Washington receiver Cooper Kupp develops gift of grab

Justin Rogers, The Detroit News

Mobile, Ala. — Cooper Kupp is the type of player who makes the Senior Bowl special.

Eastern Washington's Cooper Kupp had 428 receptions for 6,464 yards and 73 touchdowns.

Despite posting jaw-dropping numbers throughout his four years at Eastern Washington, the 6-foot-2, 198-pound wide receiver is familiar only to the most serious college football and NFL draft fans.

That’s not likely to be the case much longer.

The grandson of a former offensive lineman Jake Kupp and son of backup quarterback Craig Kupp, Cooper had just two offers coming out of high school, Eastern Washington and Idaho State. Now he heads to the pros holding all kinds of FCS records.

Most receptions, check. Most receiving yards, yep. Touchdown catches, you bet. All told, he finished with 428 grabs for 6,464 yards and 73 touchdowns. For good measure, he added a punt return touchdown each of the past three seasons.

And sure, you can point out the level of competition, but look what he did against Pac-12 foes Washington State and Oregon, posting over 200 receiving yards with three touchdowns in both games.

During the week of practices in Mobile, Kupp had no problems going head-to-head with some of the best cornerbacks in college football, routinely winning the one-on-one matchups with precise route running and good hands.

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“I don’t think (the jump in competition as big as people believe it is, but I think the difference is you’re going to get the very best effort from these guys,” Kupp said. “If you’re technique is off at all, if they smell any kind of weakness or you’re off with anything, they take advantage of that quickly.”

Kupp has long been on the radars of NFL scouts and he’s only solidifying his draft stock with this week’s showing. He’s almost a lock to be selected on the second day. And though he operated primarily out of the slot at Eastern Washington, he’s striving to prove he can be an outside threat as well.

“I don’t want to limit myself to anything,” Kupp said. “While my film shows me playing a lot more in the slot, I was pushing every week to get more reps outside, took reps in practice, always trying to work outside. I want to keep myself versatile, play inside and outside, be able to understand the whole concept of the offense and keep that opportunity open.”

Kupp, who is white, often deals with clichéd comparisons to other white receivers. He’s heard them all, but doesn’t feel his skill set mirrors a specific pass catcher in the NFL. His favorites are the diverse trio of A.J. Green, Antonio Brown and Larry Fitzgerald.

“Understand their games and incorporating that into my game is really important to me,” Kupp said.