Did WSU’s Xavier Cooper leave too soon?

BEFORE WSU DL XAVIER COOPER declared for the NFL draft earlier this month, Mike Leach reached out to draft guru Gil Brandt, the former longtime Dallas Cowboy executive who now serves as an analyst for NFL.com. Leach, according to CBSSports.com, asked Brandt to evaluate Cooper’s film and try "to talk some sense” into the underclassman who was then considering coming out early. They never connected.

"I couldn't get hold of him," Brandt told CBSSports.com. "I don't know if he dodged my call or what. The guy is probably a sixth-round choice."

Brandt doesn’t identify Xavier Cooper by name and Mike Leach wouldn’t either for CBSSports.com. But Cooper is the only Cougar underclassman who declared for the draft. This week in a separate article on NFL.com, Brandt listed Cooper among five underclassmen “who should have stayed in school,” pegging him between a Day Three pick and undrafted free agent.

“When Cooper (6-3 1/2, 295 pounds) made the decision to declare for the draft, Washington State coach Mike Leach reached out to me and asked me to look at Cooper's tape and tell Cooper what I thought. He had 13 sacks in his career, which is good for a defensive tackle, but he'll probably be somewhere between a sixth-round pick and a free agent. I just don't think it's in a guy's best interest to come out early and be a sixth-round pick. Why not stay in school and probably improve yourself three or four rounds?” says Brandt.

Cooper in announcing his decision on Jan. 2 told Cougfan.com’s Howie Stalwick he expected to be invited to the NFL Scouting Combine and be drafted in the third or fourth round.

The NFL’s official combine invitee list will be posted during the first week of February. Players however have been using traditional and social media to announce they’ve received their invite letters to the combine like this one from Vince Mayle. There’s been no word on if Cooper has received an invite. The combine takes place Feb. 17-23.

Seventy-four players with college eligibility remaining have declared for the draft, the second-highest total in history. Last year, a record 98 underclassmen declared, with 36 of them going undrafted.

Eight-five underclassmen were among the 335 players invited to the combine last year, according to nfldraftscout.com.

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