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Prospect Profiles: Graig Cooper

GRAIG COOPER, RB, MIAMI (FL)

Triangle Numbers: 6, 205, 4.55

Scouting Reports:

Sideline Scouting

Positives: Excellent speed, a true home-run threat… Very good overall athletic ability… Explosive when he gets downfield, very hard to bring down in the open… Has quick feet and a burst to blow past defenders… Is good at running through arm tackles and has improved running between the tackles over the past three years… Solid blocker for his size, takes good angles and gets good leverage… Great receiving ability… A dual-threat out of the backfield, can fit in very well for a team looking for a third-down back… Good route runner… Can play out of the slot… Miami has an amazing pedigree for putting running backs into the NFL… Strong character, very good teammate… Can return punts and kicks in the NFL.

Negatives: A bit undersized at just over 200 pounds… Hasn’t fumbled the ball too much, but he does carry the ball away from his body a bit which could pose a problem… Still isn’t very strong when meeting defenders, gets pushed backwards at times… Poor vision, doesn’t see the field well, runs into his own players… Partially tore his ACL during the 2009 Champs Sports Bowl against Wisconsin and was supposed to miss all of the 2010 season but has recovered quickly… Missed four games this year due to injury.. Hasn’t dazzled anyone with his numbers, splits carries in a loaded backfield, really took a backseat in 2010 with only 35 carries all year… Needs to learn to run straight ahead, tries to dance too much… Projects as more of a change-of-pace back who can contribute on special teams.

FF Toolbox:

Graig Cooper has never been the lone ball carrier at Miami (sharing the workload with players like Javarris James and Damien Berry), but during his first three seasons with the Hurricanes, it was Cooper who led the team in rushing. As a freshman in 2007, he outgained James and ended the season with 682 rushing yards and an impressive 5.5 yards per carry. As a sophomore Cooper took a majority of the carries due to injury issues with James and responded with an 841 yard rushing season that included six total touchdowns. In 2009 the competition got stiffer with the addition of Berry, but yet again it was Cooper leading the way in rushing yards.

Unfortunately, the 2010 campaign did not start out very well for Cooper. In the first game of the year he tweaked an ankle and missed three games. Cooper has been slow to come back and through six games only has six carries.

Cooper does have some value outside of being a running back, but even his ability to return kicks has suffered this season. He needs to turn around his disappointing senior season or he could be left out of the draft. However, Cooper has proven to be a capable rusher and a dynamic returnman. He just needs to be a little more consistent and get over his ankle injury by the end of the season and show the NFL that he can be an explosive playmaker.

National Football Post:

A tall, lean, upright runner who possesses an athletic-looking frame but lacks ideal girth through his lower half. Exhibits an impressive initial step when asked to press the line of scrimmage. Gets up to speed instantly out of his breaks and reaches top-end speed quickly, but he isn’t an elite burner in the open field — more of a high 4.4 guy. However, is a pretty patient runner in his own right, especially on perimeter runs. Allows blocks to set up, picks his way through the line of scrimmage well and has the type of footwork and fluidity to quickly change directions. Will occasionally simply outpace defenders to the edge when bouncing the football outside, but isn’t a guy who is uncomfortable running in-between the tackles. Showcases natural change of direction skills and suddenness to his game and has the wiggle to consistently make defenders miss in a phone booth and accelerate up the field. Runs hard and isn’t afraid to lower his pad level into contact. But, does expose a lot of his frame through the line of scrimmage. Has a tendency to get tripped up and brought down easily at times inside and isn’t a guy who has the power or natural pad level to consistently churn out tough yards inside.

Is a really effective receiver out of the backfield. Looks natural plucking the football in the screen game and creating after the catch. Isn’t a real savvy route runner at this stage, but certainly has the ability to cleanly get out of his breaks and separate vs. man. However, never really regained his form from 2009 due to a torn ACL injury he suffered in his 2010 bowl game. Will have major medical concerns, which will really hurt his draft stock.

Impression: There is no doubt this guy can be dynamic with the ball in his hands as runner, receiver and kick returner, and he could end up being one of the real steals in the draft if he can recover fully from an ACL injury that he suffered in January 2010.

VIDEO:

[pro-player width=’530′ height=’253′ type=’video’]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rnspJ-2Jd3I[/pro-player]

GiantsGab Thoughts:

An explosive playmaker, Graig Cooper is looking to regain his pre-injury form. Because of that, he will fall in the draft, and could be this year’s James Starks. Explosive, fast, good out of the backfield, Cooper can be a Dexter McCluster type, and you can get him late in the draft.  Obviously, you’re concerned about the injury, the ACL, and if he can return. It’s a big question. Will he be the same player? Hard to say. You take a 6th or 7th round flyer on him, and if it doesn’t work out, it’s no big deal. If it does, you have yourself a steal.

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