At the NFL scouting combine, retired wide receiver Steve Smith picked a relative surprise when asked for his top wideout in this year’s draft: Eastern Washington’s Cooper Kupp.
“His cup’s never empty, high-motor guy,” Smith said. “Kupp’s my top guy. There’s no route he can’t run.”
Smith’s “surreal” endorsement is among the many pieces of praise tossed at Kupp as the homegrown prospect heads into next week’s draft. The 23-year-old told “Danny, Dave and Moore” that he’s not reading too much into any of the hype, though.
“There’s speculation on teams saying this or that, but at the end of the day, I’m not gonna believe anything anyone tells me until my name’s called and I know where my wife and I are gonna end up at,” Kupp said on April 13. “Really, it comes down to, I’m just excited to play football. I’m just gonna strap up for whatever team it is, whatever city is. I’m excited to produce and play the game I love. I’m not gonna read into it too much. I’m just gonna be excited and wait for the day where I find out where we’re gonna start the next chapter of our lives.”
That chapter will likely be opened in the first few rounds of the draft. After breaking FCS records for total receptions, yards and touchdowns, the 6-foot-2 Kupp has been placed in the first three rounds of many mock drafts. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. predicts in his most recent mock draft that the Packers will pick Kupp with the 61st overall pick. Scouts Inc. lists Kupp as the 67th-best prospect overall and seventh-best wideout. University of Washington speedster John Ross, meanwhile, is listed as the No. 2 receiver.
Kupp said he’s heard comparisons of himself with Cowboys receiver Cole Beasley, which he’s not buying.
“I think I’ve got four inches, four inches-plus on Cole Beasley, so that was one (comparison) I didn’t understand a whole lot,” he said. “… I don’t think that was a very accurate comparison.”
Kupp, who grew up in Yakima and went to Davis High School, has NFL lineage through his father and grandfather, which he says has helped shape his perspective on the game.
“It was really cool being able to grow up an have that perspective, have those guys, that both my grandpa and dad the passion they have for the game,” he said. “But really at the end of the day, first and foremost they were Dad and Grandpa. They didn’t push anything onto me.”
Kupp said he’s trained with a few NFL quarterbacks, including the Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger, Denver’s Paxton Lynch and last year’s No. 1 overall pick, Jared Goff of the Rams. He said the experience has been beneficial in terms of learning from an X’s and O’s standpoint, as well as seeing their professionalism.
“Everything they do they want to be the best at, and that doesn’t matter whether it’s out in the field for a game, out on the field for practice or just out on the field for a guy that’s training for the draft in the offseason,” he said.