By M. Britt Hayes
Pharoh Cooper was second in the SEC in receiving yards in 2014 and 2015. He was 4th and 3rd in receiving TD’s in these respective seasons as well. So why isn’t he a bigger name?
Could it be because his quaterback situation at South Carolina was sketchier than Hillary Clinton’s inbox? Cooper experienced four different QB’s taking the reigns under center for 29 or more passes in the last 2 seasons. None of them completed more than 61.5 percent of their attempts. In spite of this, @KingTutt_uchdown as his Twitter handle reads finished his college career amassing 2,163 receiving yards with 18 TD’s by doing his best Deandre Hopkins impression. He added another 513 yards on the ground with 4 TD’s, and also tossed 4 more TD’s stepping in as QB. As if that wasn’t enough, he posted 6 plays of 70 yards or more. Yet possibly the most impressive statistic he carries away from his college career is averaging 7.4 touches-per-game and 13 yards-per-catch in two years as a full-time starter.
Maybe its the fact that he is only 5 ft. 10 inches tall? Well, that is an inch taller then Randall Cobb and Antonio Brown, as well and the same height as Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry. He has one of the best density ratings in this class relative to his height, and at 208 lbs. he outweighs similar smaller wideouts such as Corey Coleman (Baylor), Will Fuller (Notre Dame), Sterling Shepard (Oklahoma), and K.J. Maye (Minnesota). Of that group, Cooper had the highest share of his team’s receptions and yards, while placing second in share of touchdowns.
He’s Got Skills
Pharoh has versatile playmaker written all over him. He was a do everything receiver for the Gamecocks as they deployed him from the slot, boundary, and backfield in a variety of formations. He has been used out of stacked sets, in motion, and running complimentary routes. He’s used to moving all over the field to set up mismatches and draw favorable coverage. He is a great hands catcher and seems to display a strong situation awareness as a quick thinker. He changes directions extremely well, and has the elusiveness to make defenders miss and is capable of turning a catch underneath into a long gain. As he shows a second gear when he gets a seam and is dangerous in the open-field.
Randall Cobb, Jarvis Landry
His versatility mimics Cobb’s usage at Kentucky, and should transition to the next level, just as it did with Randall.
Like Landry, Cooper seems to struggle to make the first man miss. That might seem to contradict his before mentioned ability to force missed tackles, but listen. Once he is moving, Cooper can use stutter-steps and cuts to make defenders take themselves out of plays, but if coming off of a dead stop, as in a screen play, he is dead in the water.
One thing he must get better at is his first five yards off the line of scrimmage. If he can be the aggressor in this area and dictate the action, he’ll be able to use the rest of the skills in his arsenal.
In The Locker Room
Cooper’s family has a military background. He was reared in the military town of Havelock, NC. The environment in which Pharoh was raised has kept him humble and inspired his work ethic . His grandfather was a Marine, his father was a Marine, and his brother is currently a Marine. He learned discipline and adaptability early on, not just from sports, but from his family. Meaning this is no Josh Gordon or Justin Blackmon. There will be no risk of off the field incidents.
At only 20 years old, Pharoh Cooper is the 2016 draft class’s best kept secret.