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- Position: Gap Rusher/Edge Setter (DT)
- Class: Junior
- College: Washington State
- Ht/Wt: 6'4", 299 pounds
When I watch Xavier Cooper, at times I am reminded of a much more lauded prospect, one of this draft's top players in Leonard Williams. Cooper has great core power, controlling the line of scrimmage in the run game. He has a strong upper body with relentless arms, and his bull rush is excellent. He's capable of lining up all over the defensive line, and plays best when he can control the edge and play one-on-one.
Cooper has great balance; he can stay upright when cut and doesn't get blocked to the ground. He anticipates the snap very well and fires off the ball with great speed. His repertoire of pass rushing moves could use some refining overall, but he flashes good potential there. Cooper has a relentless motor, and will chase down players even when they aren't nearby. However, he can sometimes take himself out of the play by going at max effort to the wrong side of his opponent. While he does appear to have good size at first glance, I am interested to see how long his arms are; as a taller lineman whose game depends a lot on his ability to win battles with his hands, he'll suffer if his arms are shorter than the rest of his body proportion.
Cooper brings a great blend of physical ability and versatility to a defensive line. NFL.com has him ranked around No. 100 on their list of prospects, while NFLDraftScout ranks him No. 62 overall. I think he's better than that. The Combine will be a good chance to examine him physically; as a junior, Cooper didn't get to participate in any of the offseason games like the Senior Bowl.
You could consider him a sleeper pick for the Bills; Rex Ryan always made defensive draft picks a priority while he coached the Jets, and the Bills don't have enough defensive line depth with the current players on the roster. If they go in that direction, Cooper - who I've graded in the late-first, early-second round range - would be an interesting selection.