Pharoh Cooper, a 2013 three-star recruit, started 25 of 36 career games. Led South Carolina in receiving yards as a sophomore and junior, while also serving as team’s punt returner all three years. Primarily lines up as the slot receiver in the Gamecocks spread offense. Caught 66 passes on 107 targets for 973 yards and eight touchdowns in 2015. Adequate height/weight with a lean frame and very good athletic ability. Displays an impressive combination of agility and elusiveness.
Estimated 40-Yard Dash Time: low 4.5s
2014: Clemson, Miami (FL)
Good acceleration off the snap as he’s able to get a free release from the slot position. Solid separation quickness as he’s able to create instant space at the top of his route. When the play breaks down, uses very good mental processing skills to adjust route and find a hole in the defense.
That’s exactly what happens in the clip below. Against a very talented Clemson secondary, Cooper begins by running a drive route over the middle. As he sees the QB scramble to extend the play, he breaks off his route and races toward the hole in the defense. The result is a first down on third-and-22.
Like the play above, Cooper showcases solid competitive toughness by stepping up in critical situations. He averaged 13.1 yards per catch on first and second down, but improved that average to 19.7 on third down. He does not have a large catch radius as a result of his size and length, but does a good job adjusting to the ball around his frame.
After the catch, he gets upfield quickly and showcases good vision and an elite combination of agility and elusiveness to maximize yards after the catch. The same can be said on punt returns.
Here, he appears to be stopped for little to no gain, but utilizes that vision and athletic ability to get by about five defenders and gain 10 yards more than he should have.
Shows impressive aggressiveness and courage running routes over the middle of the field.
When lining up on the line of scrimmage, he struggles to fight through press coverage and is easily bumped off route due to marginal play strength. Versus off coverage, he has a tendency to alter route and run around defenders rather than hold line. He runs a limited route tree in a spread offense, relying on quick screens, drives and flats in open space. He’ll display marginal concentration skills when tracking the ball. That concentration, along with only adequate hands, leads to dropped passes.
The play below is an example of that. Cooper runs an out route, a very common route for an NFL slot receiver, and has trouble tracking the ball. He gets his hands on the pass, but can’t haul it in.
His hands are also a problem when it comes to ball security. In final two seasons, he fumbled seven times. After the catch, he struggles to breaks tackles or gain yards after contact as a result of marginal play strength. He demonstrates little willingness as a blocker, allowing defender to easily disengage and make a play on the ball.
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Overall, Pharoh Cooper is a starting slot receiver in the NFL who can win with his vision and elusiveness. He is not a receiver who is going to break tackles or gain yards after contact. Cooper’s versatility will undoubtedly draw comparisons to Green Bay Packers WR Randall Cobb, who played multiple roles on offense while at Kentucky.
In reality, he’s closer to Percy Harvin. Both are electric playmakers who thrive in open space, but struggle to create offense on their own. He will likely be a second day pick in the 2016 NFL Draft and can contribute immediately as a returner and third or fourth option in the passing game.