For anyone who wonders how Cooper Kupp became a 90-catch wide receiver the last two years, here’s your answer: The Los Angeles Rams slot receiver is wide open on his targets more than any NFL wideout.
That’s according to Michigan Football Analytics.
The Twitter account for the analytics site, operated by Tej Seth, unveiled a graph that details who are the league’s most consistent players at getting open on July 16. The chart shows that the Rams’ fifth-year wideout is the NFL’s best at getting open on his routes.
The graph also details who the league’s best receivers are after the grab. And the leader the past four seasons? The Rams’ slot receiver.
Breakdown of the Scale
The analytical feature evaluated wide receivers from the timeframe of 2017 to last season in looking closely at their percentage of targets that were listed as open and calculating the average yards after the catch per a minimum of 350 targets.
Percent of targets considered “open” were comprised on a scale of 20 to 50% by Michigan Football Analytics. Average yards a catch went with a scale of 2 to 4.
Kupp was ahead of everyone else in both categories. And the list of receivers on the chart comprised of names like Davante Adams, Tyler Lockett, De’Andre Hopkins, Adam Thielen, Julian Edelman, Julio Jones and Kupp’s teammate Robert Woods. Woods wasn’t far off from Kupp according to the analytical post. Woods tied with Jarvis Landry in both open targets and YAC, but only trailed Adams, Lockett, Sammy Watkins, Tyreek Hill, Cole Beasley and Kupp. Yet, Woods is considered more open that Hopkins, Jones, even Michael Thomas, Larry Fitzgerald and Antonio Brown – all three having a history of leading the league in receptions or making Pro Bowls.
While the original tweet focused more on Hill, Kupp was shown to be ahead of every other WR on the chart. A subsequent tweet featured a projection of how things will shake out with Matthew Stafford now throwing the football to Kupp in L.A.
In conclusion: Kupp is open on more than 50% of the throws that trek his way. He averages an extra four yards after the catch. And, according to a December 18, 2020 article from ESPN’s Lindsey Thiry, Kupp tallied half of his yardage after the catch.
“Sometimes people take the approach that the play starts when the ball is snapped and kind of ends when you catch the ball,” Kupp told Thiry. “But for us, there’s a new play that starts as soon as you catch that ball.”
How Skilled Kupp is at Getting Open
Here’s how to back up facts on how and why Kupp gets open.
Let’s start with the offense he plays in: The Rams have a unique set of route combinations and designs to create mismatches against secondaries. From the head coach Sean McVay all the way to his past offensive coordinators, they want to put pressure on defenses and put their weapons in one-on-one mismatches, especially in play-action plays which involves motions. Given Kupp’s footwork, releases and ability to run the route tree at full speed, he’s perfect for the system.
He masterfully slipped by Tampa Bay’s top lockdown cornerback Carlton Davis on this route. Kupp shows that “beating of the drums” arms pump to fool Davis with where he’s going. Kupp then puts Davis on skates, as Pro Football Focus called it.
Also from the 2020 archives, Kupp shows the separation he has on his routes. Here against the New York Giants, Kupp is already three yards ahead of his cover corner once the catch is made. But his speed does the rest and that original CB assigned to him ends up jogging before he made it to the 10-yard line, realizing he won’t catch Kupp. Plus, Kupp is really in a 3-on-1 scenario with the Giants, but finds an open lane and doesn’t get a single fingerprint from them.
But what makes a great receiver after the catch isn’t just his acceleration after the reception, but his strength during and after contact. In this example from 2019, Kupp forces the fifth New Orleans Saints defender to tussle him down. But the damage is done via Kupp’s YAC.
Kupp doesn’t score on this play, but again this is a reminder of his strength in forcing missed tackles.
So that’s how the former third round selection who played Football Championship Subdivision football at Eastern Washington gets open. And analytics now back the claim of Kupp being the league’s most open target.