Xavier Cooper burns a trail at NFL Combine
"The strength of the 2015 draft may very well be with its pass rushers, which was demonstrated by the sheer athleticism shown Sunday, with LSU's Danielle Hunter, UCLA's Owa Odighizuwa and Washington State's Xavier Cooper among the most impressive performers," wrote Rob Rang of CBSsports.com. "Cooper's speed doesn't look as impressive as his competitors until you realize that he is 6-foot-4, 293 pounds, compared to the much slighter Hunter (6-foot-5, 252) and Odighizuwa (6-foot-3, 267)." Hunter (4.57) and Odighizuwa (4.64) turned in the top two times in the 40 among defensive linemen. After the 40, Cooper proceeded to move well in the change-of-direction drill, which is the equivalent of wide receivers running routes. It doesn't have an official time, but it still raised excitement about Cooper's athleticism. His wheels kept churning in the three-cone drill, where he posted a time of 7.23 seconds, sixth best and not all that far off the No.1 time of 7.07 seconds. Cooper's 20-yard shuttle time -- 4.37 seconds -- was impressive as well. The top score was 4.05 seconds. Cooper also excelled at the bench press. He hoisted 225 pounds 29 reps, placing ninth among DLs. The most reps was 35. His hops weren't as impressive as he posted a 29-inch vertical jump, placing him in the bottom fourth but far from the worst (22.5). The best was a 39. Cooper finished in the middle of the broad jump at 110 inches. The best jump among d-linemen was 127 inches and the worst 95. Here are some of the reactions to Cooper's day at the Combine:
Markiss Cooper tweeted "My little bro Xavier Cooper just shut down the NFL Combine."
Chris Licata of profootballspot.com offered an NFL Draft Scouting Report on Cooper. Under strengths, it read: "This defensive lineman displays terrific athleticism for his size. An explosive first step paired with an innate ability to time snap counts is the reason opposing teams will find him in their backfield for much of the game."
Licata said Cooper relies more on quickness than on elite strength to subdue the man in front of him on the line. "With some added strength, Cooper will be able to finish more plays at the next level, one of his biggest weaknesses on tape," Licata said.
Matt Miller of Bleacher Report called Cooper an impressive, all-around athlete.
Former Cougar and current Akron linebacker Darryl Monroe said on Twitter: "Xavier Cooper keep proving them wrong brotha."
Mike Loyko of NEPatriotsDraft said on Twitter that Cooper's lateral movements looked awesome.
Joe Marino, an NFL Draft analyst for Draft Breakdown, tweeted that "Cooper's lateral movement was outstanding...Changed directions with ease. Looks explosive and balanced." Marino said Cooper has really good tape, and urged fans to start getting familiar with the defensive lineman.
Football Writers Association of America member Pete Smith tweeted that "Cooper is sending everyone back to the tape with the athletic showcase he put on."
Adam Benovic, a Chicago Bears writer for football.com, tweeted that he would "settle" for Cooper. Benovic said he loves Cooper's game and the effort that comes with it.
Dan Hope, an editor for Buffalo Bills Draft and a featured columnist on Bleacher Report, had plenty of good things to say about Cooper. Hope said Cooper looked smooth, and that his movement resembled that of a linebacker. Hope added that Cooper's official 40 time was the fastest among defensive linemen who project inside.
Doug Kyed, a New England Patriots beat reporter for NESN, said that Cooper's 40 time was "pretty absurd" for a defensive tackle of his size.
Kyed added that Cooper's times in the three-cone drill and the shuttle run were even crazier than his 40-yard dash time. He said Cooper was putting up better numbers than some running backs and wide receivers.
Dan Turner, a Dallas Cowboys writer and founder of NFL Draft Zone, said he thinks Preston Smith is the most likely pick for the Cowboys at No. 27. However, he said he wouldn't be disappointed with the Cowboys taking Cooper at No. 27.
"I can't believe how much quicker Xavier Cooper of Wazzu looked today. Very light feet for his size and maybe the best balance of any defensive tackle," said Donovan James, director of high school football recruiting for rsenreport.com.
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