Browns coveted Xavier Cooper for key reason

CLEVELAND BROWNS general manager Ray Farmer was succinct this week when asked why he traded three draft picks to the Patriots in order to secure Washington State defensive lineman Xavier Cooper in the third round with the No. 96 overall selection. “Xavier Cooper is a young man who plays with his hair on fire,” Farmer told WKNR Radio in Cleveland.

"You put the tape on, this guy was hustling, he competed, he found the ball, has an exceptionally explosive first step, the quickness, the speed …

“This guy, the sky’s the limit. He very well may be one of the guys people look at and say, ‘How did he get to this point?’ because his skill set is that dynamic and the things he can accomplish,” Farmer said.

Farmer also said he believes Xavier Cooper can play either the three-technique or five-technique end position.

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Cooper, along with Cleveland's first-round draft pick, Danny Shelton of Washington, helps fill one of the key off-season goals of Browns head coach Mike Pettine: build a deep rotation along the defensive line.

Notes ESPN's Pat McManamon, "Shelton and Cooper are added to a group that includes free agent signee Randy Starks as well as Desmond Bryant, Armonty Bryant, Ishmaa'ily Kitchen, Billy Winn, John Hughes, and, assuming he’s healthy, Phil Taylor. That's nine legitimate defensive linemen."

Meanwhile, Cleveland's other new WSU Cougar -- fourth-round pick Vince Mayle -- also drew praise this week from the Browns' GM. “Big kid, very productive ... I would say he's a former basketball player; he hasn't played a lot of football, but we feel like there's a tremendous upside there," Farmer said. "That tremendous upside is what we're looking for. We know he's talented enough to play, and we like the fact that he is big, he can run and we're excited that we got him where we got him.”

McManamon of ESPN believes that the 848 yards-after-catch that Mayle posted for the Cougars last season was a huge attraction for the Browns.


  • The Washington Redskins, who signed Cougar quarterback Connor Halliday as an undrafted free agent, have a familiar face overseeing team scouting in the West. It's Jim Zeches, who spent 12 seasons as a WSU assistant coach and recruiting coordinator under Mike Price. He left Pullman in 2001 to join the 49ers and has been in the NFL ever since -- the last 11 years with Washington. Zeches was in Pullman to scout Halliday first hand at his Pro Day workout last month.

  • Cougar nose tackle Toni Pole is competing at the Bengals rookie mini-camp, according to the official WSU football Instagram account. Pole went undrafted and has apparently not signed an undrafted free agent contract, though a strong performance in Cincy could change that. Pole will forever be known to WSU fans for his interception one the first play of overtime in the 2012 Apple Cup that led to the Cougars' win. This past season he posted 14 tackles in 11 games.

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