Cooper Kupp, The NFL All-Pro

by Max Perez
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It has almost been a year since Los Angeles Rams receiver Cooper Kupp tore his ACL in a Rams 36-31 win against the Seahawks. In that time since Kupp went down, he has amazed fans with his work ethic during his rehab, he started the season fast, and he has transformed himself to an All-Pro receiver in a comeback season for the ages. Kupp is currently (11/8/19) the third-leading receiver in the NFL with 792 yards on 58 receptions: the leader on the Rams by far. Rams quarterback Jared Goff’s best games come when Kupp produces, he has become a natural security blanket and one of the best pass-catchers in football. 
Rams fans have seen this coming. 
In Kupp’s rookie year, he impressed in every single game he played and had a total of 869 yards on 62 receptions; he had one of the best rookie seasons by a Ram on the offensive side of the ball since Todd Gurley. His rookie season didn’t come without some internal competition, as newly acquired Rams receivers Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods both rivaled Kupp in targets and receptions: he still produced. 

Kupp, coming out as a senior out of Eastern Washington University, was polished and came out with a bang as an “old” rookie averaging around 4 catches a game and a 66 percent catch percentage. 

The Rams knew what they had in a young Kupp. Kupp played 7.5 games before that ACL injury that ended his season in Seattle in 2018, and in those games, he went off. In HALF the games played Kupp totaled 40 receptions for 566 yards and a 72.7 percent catch percentage. Kupp was on his way to an all-pro season well before today; he was on pace for 80 receptions for 1,132 yards and a dipped catch percentage at 62 percent.

The Rams receivers were on pace for 3,000 yards combined before Kupp’s injury and Brandin Cooks along with Robert Woods both hit the 1,200-yard mark for the season. After Kupp’s injury, the Rams were forced to shuffle the order of the receivers room and not only promote lengthy receiver Josh Reynolds, but shuffle the actual position of receivers (Woods replaced Kupp in the slot, Reynolds replaced Woods). His absence was felt. 

Now, heading into the Rams week 10 matchup versus the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cooper Kupp has turned into a dominant force on the field and the Rams’ best offensive player. Every year on the Los Angeles Rams’ three years run, they have had a game-changing dominant player on both sides of the ball. In 2017, the Rams had Todd Gurley and Aaron Donald, in 2018 the Rams had Todd Gurley and Aaron Donald, and so far in 2019, the Rams have had Cooper Kupp and Aaron Donald.

Yes, AD has been the best player in the league for 3-4 years, but it has really jumped out to me (and everyone else) how Kupp has taken the offensive thrown from Todd Gurley. Gurley was an MVP candidate when the Rams went 13-3 last year, and if the Rams come anywhere close to running the table to finish this year, I would be very willing to put my name into the Cooper Kupp MVP race. He means that much to the Rams’ offensive production. 

Statistically, Kupp has been just as dominant as semi-popular MVP candidate Michael Thomas of the New Orleans Saints. Both receivers are averaging over 100 yards a game (Kupp at 99.0 but let’s round up), Thomas has 15 more catches (73 to 58) in one more game, and Thomas has 100 more yards with one more game played (875-792). If the Rams had won two of the games they have lost early in the year, Kupp would be in MVP conversations just like Thomas. Both are all-pro talents and both will end up as one of the best pass-catchers their respective franchises have ever employed. 

Kupp is special. Much like his defensive teammate Aaron Donald, Kupp has at least one or two plays a game that makes you scream or drop your jaw, and he finds a way to affect the game in any way he can. 

In true Sean McVay-tenure Rams player fashion, Kupp always downplays his performances in favor of uplifting teammates, 

“Sure, that’s part of it. Just being able to get back and be healthy. I think if you go back and watch the film. I think more than anything you see (WR Robert) Rob Woods and (WR) Brandin Cooks flying down the field as I’m running, they’re getting huge blocks 40, 50 yards down the field. I think that’s just a testament to the team we have, the camaraderie we have.” –Cooper Kupp post- Saints @ Rams 2019. 

The Rams have found their star receiver, their all-pro offensive threat, and their jaw-dropping pass-catching talent. Kupp has been a huge reason for the Rams’ offensive resurgence that started in 2017 and he will be a huge part in any Rams win through his tenure in LA. Kupp has done all of this with “sneaky speed” and “surprising athleticism” mind you, and he isn’t looking to stop anytime soon.  

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