Xavier Cooper, DL, Washington
Ht. 6027, Wt. 293, Arm: 31 1/2”, Hand: 9 3/8”, Bench: 29
40 yd: 4.86, 10 yd.: 1.68, 3 Cone: 7.32, Vertical: 29”, Broad: 9’2”
Games Watched: Oregon (2013), Oregon, Stanford
After being miscast in Washington State’s base 3-4 front, defensive lineman Xavier Cooper was mentioned as a possible Combine riser. His impressive 40-yard, 10-yard and 3-Cone times made him worth a look.
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Cooper flew under the radar at Washington State despite recording 13 sacks and 32.5 tackles for loss in three seasons. With the growth the showed in the last year and the athleticism he showed off in Indianapolis, he’s an interesting prospect for NFL teams.
Between playing him out of position as a 5-Technique and running so many stunts, Cooper didn’t have much of a chance to show what he can do. As 1-gapping 3-Technique, which is where he would play as a Cowboy, he flourished.
When Cooper was allowed to pin his ears back and shoot a gap, he showed flashes of being a productive player. He also flashed impressive burst — check his 10-yard split — and very active hands. When he did, he was disruptive on a high percentage of plays.
In 2013, Cooper was blown off the ball against Oregon’s power runs. In 2014, he showed the ability to beat those double teams at times and at least hold his ground somewhat. He appears to accept coaching well.
While he did show improvement against the run, Cooper still has a long way to go. Because he has relatively short arms, he often lets blockers into his body and has trouble disengaging. He also shows a weak anchor and must get stronger.
Cooper is still inconsistent with his technique as well. He sometimes fires off too high and immediately puts himself at a disadvantage. He also needs to develop some pass-rushing moves beyond a mediocre spin.
He often found himself in position to make a play yet missed the tackle. Disruption is production (as rotoworld draft writer Josh Norris often says), but too many NFL running backs and quarterbacks can do too much damage on broken plays. He must improve the way he finishes.
Verdict: Third Rounder
Cooper is a rare prospect whose Combine numbers tell most of the story of his status. He has the bust and quickness to give a team good A-Gap pressure, but he's not stout enough against the run to be an every down defensive tackle yet.
Cooper's game reminds me of defensive lineman Will Sutton, who the Bears drafted out of Arizona State in the third round last year. He has potential to develop, but he's still a good value as a rotational 3-Technique in the third round.