WR Cooper Kupp has been an NFL elite WR for several years

Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

As an LA Rams fan who has loved the play of Cooper Kupp from his Eastern Washington college days of frustrating Pac-12 secondaries as he riddled even the best defenses. There is always something particularly appealing to me about college players who excel against even the most formidable opponents, despite their team simply not possessing the same level of a competitive roster as their opponents.  Kupp put up 4,892 yards and 54 touchdowns in a collegiate career that was basically three seasons.

And anonymous quarterbacks.

He is a native of Yakima, Washington, he stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 208 pounds. But most of all, his insane dedication to the art of catching passes reminds me of the same intense dedication of NFL greats like Jerry Rice, Larry Fitzgerald, and Marvin Harrison.

Some have argued that pairing up WR Cooper Kupp with veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford has evened the odds up between Kupp and other NFL elite receivers, basically giving him a quarterback who is just as qualified to make all of the throws from almost any arm position or sequence.

Kupp has been elite, only now NFL analysts notice

But you could also argue that Kupp was already there among the best receivers in the NFL and that adding Stafford to the equation is like getting an NFL Cheat Code at the wide receiver position. How good is Kupp?

He has topped the NFL in receiving yards over the past three seasons. And much like those years at Eastern Washington, he was not doing so because he had an elite quarterback throwing to him. Rather, he did so in spite of the quarterback play.

No, I’m not saying that Jared Goff was bad. He simply was not at the same level as quarterback Aaron Rodgers or even quarterback Patrick Mahomes. So let’s take a look at the WRs in the list in a tabular format:

Wide Receiver      Yards    TDs        YAC
Cooper Kupp          4,082    29       1,909
Davante Adams    3,924    34       1,577
Stefon Diggs          3,892    24       1,092
Travis Kelce            3,770    25       1,561
D.J. Moore               3,525    12       1,192

As you can see, of the 4,082 yards over the past three seasons, 1,909 yards were due to yards after the catch. and that number dwarfs the number of yards earned by any other top receiver after the catch. Since Kupp’s yardage has not relied upon the quarterback but has been nearly 50 percent of what he does after the ball is in his hands, he’s remained an elite receiver despite who is throwing to him.

Will Stafford and Kupp be able to repeat the incredible 2021 season? I’m inclined to believe that they could do even better. Stafford has more chemistry with Kupp this year, and Kupp knows how to optimize his looks to Stafford to attract the football. And once Kupp grabs the pass, he’s off to the races.

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