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Why the Lions Need to Worry about Rams WR Cooper Kupp

Wide receiver Cooper Kupp is among the several deep-threat options for the Los Angeles Rams.

There is a lot more to Rams receiver Cooper Kupp than meets the eye.

He enters this weekend's game against Detroit, tied for the NFL lead in receptions (46), and he has the second-most yards of any receiver in the league (653).

Kupp also leads all receivers with seven touchdown catches.

Even more impressive than his staggering statistics is how he has gone about getting them.

I went back and watched all of his receptions against the Colts, Buccaneers and Giants. I noticed what makes him most dangerous is that he can get you from various release points and in different-looking play designs. 

What I mean is he can motion inward after the snap and cross past the entire offensive line, and then take off into his route. Kupp can almost manage to get lost in the shuffle, before he launches into his route downfield. He does not run the same mundane-looking routes play after play. 

The Rams have a tendency to get creative with him, before he launches into his routes.

The 28-year-old wideout is tough, competitive and scrappy. And, do not fall asleep on him, because he has just enough playing speed to be dangerous and to pick up yardage after the catch (YAC). His playing speed is, in fact, deceptive.

Kupp is smooth-looking, and he makes it look easy.

Another thing that makes him dangerous is he has good hip flexibility to break off routes at the break points. That makes him tougher also for defensive backs to match, and get there in time when the ball arrives. 

In his fifth season in the NFL, the Rams wideout just knows how to find the soft spots in coverages, and he has excellent concentration when the ball is closing in.

There was one pass play against the Giants where three defensive backs were around him and he looked the ball right into his hands.

Speaking of his hands, he tends to catch just about everything. He has very confident and sure hands. 

When I look at Kupp, I see former Seattle Seahawks great Steve Largent.

The route he tends to seem to love most is this little, short bubble route. He backs corners off, and then comes back quickly inside for the ball, before picking up additional yardage inside.

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Kupp is also not one of these receivers who looks to go out of bounds. He plays like the game is important to him, and he also has a nose for the end zone.

Another thing about Kupp that makes him dangerous is he shows the ability to run all the routes and he is not afraid of going across the middle.

Do the Lions need to worry?

Yes -- absolutely yes. Kupp is the best receiver they have seen so far this year, for all these aforementioned reasons. He has also developed a real synergy with former Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford.

Kupp is a textbook example of good scouting. The Rams scout who liked Kupp deserves a lot of credit. 

It was a guy by the name of Brad Holmes. Yes, the same Brad Holmes who is now the general manager of the Lions. 

Holmes was a scout for the Rams when Kupp came out of Eastern Washington in 2017.

"I've told the Cooper Kupp story," Holmes told The Athletic. "Every time you saw him play football, the guy was good, you liked him. But I remember we saw him at the Senior Bowl, he was the best player on the field. Nobody can cover this dude. He looked explosive. And his shuttle and all that kind of reflected that, but his 40 time was in the 4.6s. He did it at the combine and at the pro day, so the last thing in your head was that 4.6.”

Kupp is just a receiver that has to be accounted for at all times, and whoever is responsible for covering him needs to be aware of where he is on the field. He can hurt defenses repeatedly and from anywhere.

Kupp is not just a possession-type receiver, either. 

He is averaging 7.6 receptions and 108.8 yards per game through the first six weeks of this season. Those averages are up from 2020, when he averaged 6.13 receptions and 64.9 yards per game.

A special thank you to Holmes and Stafford for giving the Lions another thing to worry about this Sunday.

Football -- like life -- is full of irony. 

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