Breakdown: Browns Select Xavier Cooper

Everything you need to know about the Cleveland Browns’ third-round selection of defensive tackle Xavier Cooper out of Washington State from Scout's college and pro football experts.

Awaiting Image
Xavier Cooper
Washington State / 6'4 / 299 lbs
  • DT
  • [3] #32

Analysis

Cooper is a three-year starter for the Cougars. He posted 87 tackles over the past two seasons and 23.5 tackles for a loss. He can play the five-technique in a 3-4 defense or defensive tackle in a 4-3. Cooper is strong and uses his hands well. At 293-pounds is has deceptive short area quickness. He ran an impressive 4.37 20-yard shuttle at the Combine.

Dave-Te' Thomas Player Evaluation

Report from NFL Scouting Services' Dave-Te' Thomas:

While most NFL teams project Xavier Cooper to be a 4-3 base defense tackle, his performance in the speed drills and similar stellar effort as a sophomore while playing the “bandit” end position in the Cougars’ 3-4 alignment could change some teams’ minds when trying to figure where to play this underrated Cougar. He delivered 13.5 stops-for-loss (school record for sophomores), five sacks and 50 tackles at that position in 2013. This past season, the high-energy run stuffer took ten opponents down behind the line of scrimmage, five of them being quarterbacks, as both figures were tops on the team. He also collected 37 tackles, 17 coming on third-down plays.

Cooper shows the ability to use his hands to get inside control and leverage. He has the strong hand jolt to push blockers back on their heels and also has the speed to separate and then chase down the ball. The thing you notice on film is that when he gets his hands on an opponent, he can tie up the blocker, standing them up and shed. His lower leg strength prevents most offensive linemen from being successful in attempts to reroute him.

Cooper is a strong wrap-up tackler with good hand usage and uses those hands effectively to keep blockers off his body. He is very light on his feet and shows good change of direction agility, but must be more urgent when having to pursue plays at the opposite end of the field. He runs with a good stride and pursues hard in the short area (long pursuit is a bit inconsistent), as he has an excellent feel for leverage and balance. He is athletic enough to play any position on the defensive line, but his frame is better suited for a three-tech defensive tackle spot or playing the “bandit” end position in a 3-4 defense.

Cooper has good initial quickness and can change direction effortlessly. He is a quick twitch type who is especially effective generating that burst coming around the corner on the pass rush. He has the hand movement and punch to shock and jolt a lethargic offensive lineman and thanks to his active hands, it makes it extremely difficult for a blocker to sustain him. His low pad level lets him get under a lineman’s pads and he attacks them with heavy hands and a high motor.

The Cougar has the strong hand jolt to push blockers back on their heels and also has the speed to separate and then chase down the ball. The thing you notice on film is that when he gets his hands on an opponent, he can tie up the blocker, standing them up and shed. His lower leg strength prevents most offensive linemen from being successful in attempts to reroute him. He recovers off blocks quickly and is generally a disruptive force working down the line, but needs to do a better job of anticipating the snap (can get fooled and jump off-side).

Cooper breaks down and wraps with authority. He shows aggression and explosiveness behind his hits, but must generate a better burst when having to make plays in long pursuit. When locking up, his upper body strength allows him to drive through blockers. In tight quarters, he willingly throws his body around. When he sets his sights on the ball carrier or quarterback, he will generally unload behind his hits.

Cooper makes quite a few plays stacking and controlling the inside blockers, making him a better fit as a three-tech tackle than at end. He shows the hands strength to shed and make plays while defending the tight end’s low blocks. He has very good balance and strength, keeping his hands very active to wear down the blockers during the game. He is also effective moving laterally down the line. He has a very strong anchor and a good concept for leveraging.

With his bull rush ability, he can simply destroy slower guards and centers shooting the inside gaps. He has developed quick swim and spin moves, as well. He needs to work on getting a more consistent up field burst, but he has the fast hands and smooth hips to get the job done once he gets into the backfield. He shows good rip, swim, counter and bull rush moves.

Cooper will sometimes get a little too anxious in pursuit and overshoot the quarterback, but is quick to recover and get back into the action. His counter moves are effective, but he could struggle at the next level if he must bend around the corner as a defensive end. His problem here is when he fails to set the offensive lineman up. He has effective swim moves, but sometimes gets so caught up in punishing the blocker that he loses sight of the quarterback.

The Washington State junior has made marked improvement reacting to block pressure, but can sometimes get rerouted by the offensive tackle when he gets too high in his stance. He might not have the greatest feel for blocks on the move, but can generally find the ball in a crowd. If he is to remain at defensive end, he will have to improve his burst and acceleration working in space in order to make him effective chasing down the ball in long pursuit.

Xavier Cooper Scouting Combine measurables


6-3/293 (4.86 forty)
31 1/2-inch arm length
9 3/8-inch hands
29-reps
29-inch vertical jump
110-inch broad jump
7.23 3 cone drill
4.37 20 yard shuttle

Dave-Te’ Thomas is a sports writer, talent evaluator and scouting personnel consultant for a majority of teams in the National Football League. Thomas runs a scouting information service called NFL Scouting Services and produces THE NFL Draft Report, a publication provided by league headquarters to the media in preparation for the NFL Draft.

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