LA Rams: Is Cooper Kupp an NFL Top-Five WR?

Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

What characteristics classify the greatest wide receiver?  Is it their big-play ability? Maybe their speed and agility? Could it be their yards after the catch? Can it be their route running and knowledge of the defensive coverage? In my opinion, all those questions play a factor in the ultimate wide receiver.

Currently, there are 5 top wide receivers in the NFL that have all of those characteristics and one of them is on the LA Rams roster. His name is Cooper Kupp or other fans might know him as Mr. Super Bowl MVP. All sports fans love a good underdog story and Cooper Kupp’s career is the perfect script.  Cooper Kupp was drafted by the LA Rams in the third round, 69th overall, back in the 2017 NFL draft.

After finishing his collegiate career at Eastern Washington, many sports fans didn’t think much of Kupp going into the NFL. Well, I guess he proved all the nonbelievers wrong by winning the Super Bowl LVI MVP. To all those doubters, I am here to tell you that Cooper Kupp is currently a top 5 wide receiver in the NFL.

Ranking Process

A lot of sportswriters have different categories on how they rank certain positions in football. I believe the wide receiver position is one of the toughest groups to rank. There are so many high-quality wide receivers in the NFL it’s tough to narrow it down. For this purpose, my ranking system is simple. I will not factor in the ability to block, run a jet sweep, or line up in the backfield. I will focus exclusively on the ability of the wide receiver to line up outside of an offensive tackle and make plays.

My top 5 wide receivers need to have the following characteristics, route running, great hands, consistent production, and x-factor ability on the field. Kupp and the rest of the players listed below cover all of those categories. I even try to ignore the quality of the quarterback making the throws, and focus upon the talent of the wide receiver alone.

2021 – 2022 Top 5 WR

  1. DeAndre Hopkins (#10 Arizona Cardinals)
  2. Davante Adams (#17 Green Bay Packers)
  3. Cooper Kupp (#10 Los Angeles Rams)
  4. Tyreek Hill (#10 Kansas City Chiefs)
  5. Justin Jefferson (#18 Minnesota Vikings)

1. DeAndre Hopkins

Why would I consider DeAndre Hopkins my number one ranked NFL WR? Easy, he is a one-man show when it comes to the Arizona Cardinals’ offense. Last year, Hopkins was injury-prone the whole year, so his stats don’t jump off the page. According to ESPN, when Hopkins was on the field the Cardinals’ offense was average 30.2 points a game, and when Hopkins was injured, the offense only averaged 18.8 points a game. Those stats right there jump off the page.

When Hopkins got hurt in week 14 against the LA Rams, the Cardinals saw their Super Bowl hopes quickly die. Football is a team sport, but when the number one ranked WR goes down you know your offense is going to crumble. Hopkins finished with 42 catches 572 yards and 8 touchdowns. Look for Hopkins to have a huge bounce-back year in 2022.

2. Davante Adams

How good is Davante Adams without Aaron Rodgers? That question is yet to be answered and it might happen sooner rather than later. Of course, I believe Adams is an incredible wide receiver, that is why I have him ranked number 2 overall.  Aaron Rodgers can make any wide receiver look like a Jerry Rice, but can Adams do it without his MVP QB? I believe the difference between Hopkins and Adams is that question right there.

For the majority of Hopkins’s career, he always has a below-average quarterback, but still finds a way to stand out above the rest. During the 2021 season, I took a close eye on Adams and watched him every game. What convinced me that he was ranked two overall was the way opposing coaches gameplan against him. During the Baltimore Ravens game, the Ravens TRIPLED-teamed him and still found a way to get open.  According to ESPN, Adams finished with 123 catches 1,553 yards, and 11 touchdowns.

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 3. Cooper Kupp

Where does the Super Bowl LVI MVP rank amongst the best NFL wide receiver? In my opinion, Cooper Kupp is ranked 3rd overall. According to ESPN, Kupp finished with 145 catches, 1,947 yards, and 16 touchdowns last year. Kupp’s stats are incredible and what makes him stand out against the rest is his unbelievable route running. His route running is perfect, and he can line up anywhere on the field.

Kupp is so explosive, the Rams can put him in the slot, out wide, at tight end, and running back. No matter where he is on the field, he just knows how to make big plays. Kupp is a target magnet, and he almost had a touchdown a game. That stat right there shows how reliable Kupp is on the field. Kupp has an excellent supporting staff around him, like OBJ, Robert Woods, and Tyler Higbee, and still finds a way to go above and beyond.

4. Tyreek Hill

Hill, like Adams, has the same scenario. How good is Tyreek Hill without Patrick Mahomes? Hill is by far the most electrifying player in the NFL. He is arguable the fastest wide receiver in the NFL. Even when you double-team Hill, he still is a big-play threat. According to CBS Sports, Hill has the second most 25+ yard receptions in his first 84 games, only 12 less than Randy Moss.

Hill has only been in the league for less than 6 years and is on pace to be a Hall of Famer. According to ESPN, in 2021, Hill ranked 3rd with 111 catches, 7th with 1239 yards, and 9th with 9 touchdowns. If he can continue this pace, he will shatter all the records set by the previous Hall of Famers. Of course, the big question is can he perform like this without Mahomes? I guess only time can time.

5. Justin Jefferson

I’m not going to lie; Justin Jefferson is my favorite young wide receiver. In 2020, Jefferson broke the NFL rookie record with 1400 receiving yards.  With only two years in the league, I truly believe he will be the number one ranked wide receiver shortly. In his rookie year, he had the 3rd highest receiving yards amongst wide receivers.

Last year, Jefferson finished 4th with 108 catches, 2nd with 1616 yards, and 6th with 10 touchdowns. Those stats are amazing considering the Vikings are a run-heavy team. Also, what is amazing about those stats is that Adam Thielen was hurt most of the year, leaving Jefferson double-teamed for the majority of the game. Jefferson has put himself into the elite category with only two seasons under his belt.

Let the debate begin

It’s tough to say who else belongs in this elite category amongst wide receivers, but I do know that LA Rams Cooper Kupp belongs there. When Kupp tore his ACL back in November 2018, he came back the 2019 season better than ever. Since entering the league in 2017, Kupp has gotten better and better each year.

Kupp puts up consistent stats no matter who plays quarterback and he is always reliable. Kupp deserves to be amongst the top 5 greatest active wide receivers in the NFL today, and it would be difficult to convince me otherwise.

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