Rams WR Cooper Kupp Leads the NFL in Rare Stat

Cooper Kupp

Getty Cooper Kupp hauls in a catch in Week 2 versus the Colts during the 2021 season.

NFL fans don’t need to Google search who led the league in all three wide receiving categories last season. Just say Cooper Kupp and there’s the answer to who became No. 1 in receptions, yardage and touchdowns.

However, there is a rare stat Kupp led the league in from 2021 that would likely require typing in the search engine bar — which can help further explain why the Los Angeles Rams All-Pro delivered the season he had.

It’s a stat that’s often not considered. Plus, it helps explain how Kupp doesn’t draw that many matchups versus the top coverage cornerback on the opposite side. Lastly, this stat also proves the mastery behind Sean McVay and his play-calling prowess.


Kupp Has Highest Percentage in This Category

According to Timo Riske of Pro Football Focus on Tuesday, July 5, he revealed that Kupp is the one receiver who draws the most coverage against linebackers.

That’s correct — it’s LBs, not safeties or the CB1, who cross paths with the NFL’s triple crown leader the most.

Riske unveiled that Kupp faced linebackers 21.3% of the time last season. That percentage was more than Jerry Jeudy of the Denver Broncos at 20.7% and 90-catch wideout Amon-Ra St. Brown of the Detroit Lions who was covered by a ‘backer 19.7% last season.

Mind you, this is not Kupp just lining up at what’s been considered his natural position the slot wideout; where those wideouts often draw an outside linebacker and work inside of the defensive coverage. McVay has masterfully used Kupp to create mismatches for the Rams.


Kupp When Facing a Linebacker

One example: From the 2018 season (also the year Kupp tasted his first conference title), Kupp ends up drawing coverage from linebacker Anthony Barr of the Minnesota Vikings. The end result is a 70-yard bomb for the touchdown.

That’s not all. In the Week 2 road win over the Indianapolis Colts, McVay lined up Kupp as a running back on 2nd-and-6. In this formation, the inside linebacker usually becomes responsible for the back if he’s going out for a pass. The Rams also flood three receivers to the right — leaving Indy thinking the ball is going that direction. However, All-Pro Colts linebacker Darius Leonard shows confusion on the coverage assignment which leaves Kupp sneaking behind for the end zone:

Additional clip: Kupp is lined up as a “flanker” in this 11 personnel formation versus the New York Giants. Instead of running up the field for his formation, he sneaks behind the offensive line which draws in OLB Jihad Ward. The play ends with Kupp beating Ward and the rest of the nearest Giants defenders into the end zone.

Final clip: Twice, he drew matchups against Seattle Seahawk linebackers into the end zone. And on his first score, his future Rams teammate Bobby Wagner was involved as one of the LBs responsible for Kupp. NBC Sports analyst and former NFL quarterback Chris Simms even compared the difference between Kupp’s routes with that of Seahawks superstar D.K. Metcalf from that game.


McVay Had Another WR Skillfully Drawing Linebackers

Kupp wasn’t the only one on that list who benefitted from McVay’s mind.

Though he’s no longer a Ram, Robert Woods was calculated at drawing in linebackers at a rate of 17.7%. In his breakout 12-catch, 150-yard night versus the Seahawks in Week 5, Woods caught four passes for 67 yards and gained three first downs when facing Wagner and Jordyn Brooks.

While Kupp is tops in the league in drawing in linebackers, McVay gets credited for masterfully putting a 240-to-260-pound defender on their top receiving options — leading to the ultimate aerial mismatches on game day.

It shouldn’t be surprising if newcomer Allen Robinson gets non-cornerbacks or safeties on him this season in McVay’s offense…giving the Rams an additional solo battle McVay and the Rams would love to take advantage of.

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