The Materialization of Marcus Cooper

Coop

With the 252nd pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, the San Francisco 49ers select Marcus Cooper, cornerback, Rutgers. 

Six months ago, Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Marcus Cooper was headed for California’s bay area to play professional football. Cooper narrowly escaped the title “Mr. Irrelevant” when he was selected with the 46th pick in the 7th round (just two spots ahead of Justice Cunningham). His stay with the Niners was brief. Cooper was a casualty of San Francisco’s final cutdown on August 31.

The four-year man out of Rutgers began his collegiate career as a wide receiver. He made the switch to cornerback in 2010. Cooper’s final years with the Scarlet Knights were solid, but he didn’t grab the attention of scouts until Rutgers’ annual pro day. There he posted two sub-4.5 40 times (4.43 and 4.47), a vertical leap of 39 inches, and a broad jump of 10 feet, 9 inches. Despite an impressive performance, he still wasn’t able to avoid being the antepenultimate pick in April’s draft.

Marcus Cooper was on the NFL’s unemployment line for just one day before general manager John Dorsey claimed him off waivers. Expectations to start the season were low. Few waiver clams pan out in the NFL and the Chiefs’ secondary already appeared to be set. Cooper got an early look with Dave Toub’s special teams coverage unit, but he squandered his first big-play opportunity.

In the Week 2 game against the Dallas Cowboys, “Coop” had an error in judgment when he downed a fourth quarter punt deep in Cowboys’ territory. While covering the punt, Cooper went out of bounds. That mental mistake lead to an ”illegal touching” penalty. A kicking team player that goes out of bounds during a return may not be the first player to touch or “down” the football. Since the punt was downed inside Dallas’ 5-yard line, it was ruled a touchback. The ball was brought out to the 20-yard line and Dallas capitalized on the error trimming the Chiefs’ lead to 1 point (on a Dan Bailey 53-yard field goal).

Cooper would have to wait two weeks to redeem himself. Veteran cornerback Brandon Flowers sustained a knee injury and was inactive for the Week 4 game with the New York Giants. The injury forced Dunta Robinson into the starting lineup, but early in the second quarter, he was burned by Giants wideout Victor Cruz for a 69-yard touchdown. Realizing Robinson would continue to be a liability in press coverage, head coach Andy Reid turned to the Rutgers rookie for help. Marcus Cooper responded with an impressive 57-snap performance that received a +1.8 grade from Pro Football Focus.

The following week in the game against Tennessee, Cooper received his second straight positive grade from PFF. His fourth quarter interception of Ryan Fitzpatrick helped the Chiefs hang on to win. He was targeted 8 times in the game, but only surrendered 21 yards on 2 receptions. He would again have his number called this past Sunday in the game against the Oakland Raiders. Flowers’ lingering knee issue kept him out of the game and gave Cooper his second start of the season.

Cooper had another solid game on Sunday that earned a +3.1 grade from PFF. He did make one mistake though, allowing Denarius Moore a free release on a quick slant that he took 39 yards into the end zone. He was surprisingly sanguine about the play in a postgame interview:

I’m glad I got beat, you know? It’s always a learning experience for me. You have to experience some type of adversity to get better, to put your best foot forward. That’s just something I want to go back and study and see how I can improve my game from that standpoint.

Cooper accepted the challenge and exacted his revenge on Moore in the fourth quarter. On a 2nd & 5 play with four minutes left in the game, “Coop” stepped in front of a Terrelle Pryor pass on a quick slant similar to the one from the touchdown play earlier in the game. A short memory is one of the most important intangibles for a cornerback to have in the NFL. Through the first six games of the season, he’s proven he has the ability to put negative plays behind him.

Having been a wide receiver in college seems to be aiding Cooper in the pros. He’s consistently gotten across the face of the wide receivers he’s been matched up with. Gaining inside position was previously one of his job responsibilities. It’s become his priority now that he’s in a new role in the NFL. He’s defensed 10 passes through 6 games. To put that into perspective, his predecessor Stanford Routt had just 4 in 7 games for the Chiefs last season (granted Romeo Crennel’s scheme called for more zone coverage).

We all knew that identifying quality depth would be key in righting the ship in Kansas City. John Dorsey took that as a personal challenge and has gifted this roster with a few players who might be starting if not for Pro Bowl-caliber incumbents in front of them. It’s possible that Marcus Cooper is the best of the seven players Dorsey claimed on September 1. His emergence gives the Chiefs options on the outside and allows Brandon Flowers time to heal. If “Coop” can sustain this level of play, he might figure prominently into the defensive rookie of the year conversation at the end of the season. He’s been that good thus far.

How pleased are you with Marcus Cooper’s contribution to this Chiefs defense? Are you concerned he’ll come back to earth at some point, or are you convinced that he’s the real deal? Use the comment section below to speak your mind. As always, we appreciate your readership and support.

Until next time, Addicts!

Topics: Kansas City Chiefs

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  • Danny W

    I think he may have beaten Flowers out of a starting gig over there so far. When Flowers get’s back he needs to play the slot in my opinion. Should do nothing but make us better against Pey Pey and his mile long forehead. Smith Flowers Cooper. Safety’s Demps and Burry. Thanks for writing today Reach.

    • Chuck Burrell

      Beaten Flowers out for a starting spot?? That’s ludicrous. He’s played well, and I hope he continues to do so. But to even jokingly say he’s a better corner than flowers is asinine. He’s played 4 games in his career at corner!! That being said, I think putting flowers in the slot against the donkeys gives us our most opportunistic matchup. Flowers has a history of getting beat by taller receivers and I expect him to do to Welker what he did to D Jackson.

      • Danny W

        If he continues to improve he’ll be better than Flowers. Remember Flowers has never made the pro bowl, while he’s our best corner since I can remember he’s not immune to being beat out of a position. Maybe Flows size has him better suited for slot any way. Just food for thought. Asinine? Nah. Very possible.

        • Stacy D. Smith

          I think he’s probably been snubbed for the Pro Bowl once or twice.

          • Chuck Burrell

            I couldn’t agree more. Especially in comparison to berry being a shoe-in twice after having 2 mediocre seasons. To his credit, he’s played a pro bowl level so far this year

    • Troy Utt

      I hope Coop is able to continue on the pace inwhich he has set… we will need all the help we can get come weeks 10 & 13 against Manning!

  • Deaudrey Dre-Mac MacDonald

    Coop is not going to take Flowers spot but it does give you flexability to match up well with teams. That’s what you need to be succesful.

    • Stacy D. Smith

      Nor should he. He’s played very well, but he hasn’t proven he’s a better cornerback.

      • Danny W

        I agree but it would take longevity to prove that point. Cooper hasn’t played enough yet to say he can be consistent over x amount of games because he’s a rookie. So far this year he’s played lights out football better than Brandon Flowers. I know Flowers is hurt though so there should be an asterisk by that statement. I think he can eventually beat Flow or any one he wants at the corner spot if he chooses.

        • Stacy D. Smith

          It’s really not even open for debate in my mind.
          He’s been a fabulous stand-in. I tip my hat to the kid.
          Looks like he might have the chops to be a starter in this league.

          • Danny W

            Cool cool. I just have strong faith in the kid we can leave it at that.

  • berttheclock

    Great writeup, Stacy, but, I have read Schiano called him into his office his second year to make that switch and he ended up playing DB for 2 and one half years. Pro Football Focus has awarded him very high grades for his game last Sunday. They did mention only one flaw in allowing Moore to have too much room on that TE pass. But, overall, he had one of the best DB grades given. What really stands out is the work of Dorsey in spotting him working out with the Niners. However, did you happen to read Antoine Winfield, at 36, is looking for work. The Seahawks cut him as they had a glut. The word is he wants to play for a contender and he still has the ability to hit hard. More depth?

    • Jordan

      No cap room? Veterans usually come at a higher price based on past performance than current with all the help we need on offense it’s hard for me personally to see this happening not to say the idea is a bad one

      • berttheclock

        He signed for $3 mill with Seattle, but, ended up being cut. That was far below what he earned with the Vikings. I just wish there was another TE or offensive lineman out there on the market.

        • Jordan

          Yeah there has been a flood of defensive players with little in the way of offensive guys who fit our need

        • Auburn78

          Honestly Phillip Lutzenkirchenout of Auburn could truly help at TE short term. He’s a receiving TE though and Mcgrath would be needed for running downs. But Alex Smith could certainly use another solid TE that can catch.

        • kcpauly

          Good read Reach,
          I would like to see D.harris get called up and thrown into the fire as a catching TE he showed good promise in camp and has had some time now to get better let’s see what he gots, just a thought
          Go Chiefs!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Stacy D. Smith

      Good catch. I’ll update that. I read some conflicting information on him that suggested he’d only converted a year before going pro.

  • Jordan

    Great article and I’m convinced we found a diamond cooper looks to have great intangibles for a rookie that will only get better with experience plus being so young we could have him around for years to come. While flowers is still an elite corner given his size( not much bigger than our old friend Javier at 5’9) he’s a nickel corner nightmare now that we have Coop emerging as an option for the “#2 corner” spot. He’s made huge strides in winning over the fan base

  • In_My_Opinion1

    The kid can play! He seems like the real deal to me. I also think he looks like a late bloomer that found his position late. Could be he was just “misdiagnosed” by coaches his whole career. Hopefully he is still utilized when Flowers comes back.

    • Stacy D. Smith

      Helps that he understands the role of a wide receiver. His recognition should be a bit higher than players who’ve never played the position.

      • In_My_Opinion1

        I agree. John Dorsey’s talent evaluation has been outstanding. I give him an A+ this far into the season. The coaches certainly have enough talent to mold. I think we’d have seen more out of the offense so far if our TE situation were different.

        • Jordan

          You can never have enough talent to mold ;)

  • berttheclock

    In 2010 at Rutgers, Cooper had 12 solo tackles and 4 assists, with 2 PDs.
    In 2011, he had 15 solos, 15 assists, one PD, 3 fumbles recovered and one TD off a fumble.
    In 2012, he 26 solos, 16 assists, One INT and 4 PDs.

    Improvement every year and he is still young.

  • KcNdaRock

    Last night I commented on the fisher article because addicts seemed upset with the Oline play and the negitive post. Great article and at least we have 1 rookie making an impact for the team. He is making a case for the rookie of the year! The man is also clutch

  • berttheclock

    Did you read a comment from Taub that he was worried he was going to lose him on Special Teams, if his defensive play kept improving?

    • Stacy D. Smith

      I hadn’t heard that. That’s awesome though.

  • Jason Seibel

    Great piece, Reach. I’m a huge fan of Marcus Cooper and a friend of mine continues to call him “the Chiefs best draft pick,” even though we didn’t draft him. Dorsey has been spot on with his player evaluations thus far in the season. Outstanding piece.

    • Stacy D. Smith

      I’m shocked the Niners didn’t at least try to sneak him on to their practice squad.

      • berttheclock

        The did try. They had two DBs they wanted to keep. The other was a smaller guy named Morris who had a 4.3 something on his Pro Day. Baalke thought he could slip both through waivers, but, only Morris remains and he has been brought up to the 53.

        • Stacy D. Smith

          Makes sense seeing as how he made it to the final cuts.

          • berttheclock

            What was interesting about those last minute events is how Dorsey, Baalke and Schneider kept looking over each others shoulders. Seattle tried to get McGrath and Parker through, but, Dorsey swooped. Baalke tried to keep Cooper, but, Dorsey saw it coming. Schneider tried to keep Harper, the TE/H-back from K-State, but, Baalke grabbed him.

  • Josh Landers

    Coop is the real deal and will be an important piece of the puzzle vs the donkeys. He will allow flowers to attempt to take welker out of the game. This signing was HUGE! He will probably experience some growing pains but he looks to be a permanent fixture on this d. Good thing he’s getting a lot of reps now and flowers is getting reps in the slot. GO CHIEFS!!!

  • Joe ThisnThat Woodley

    CHIEFS FANS can we please stop saying that cooper is going to take flowers SPOT!! Cooper is emerging as a top young corner and he playing time is starting to show this also. Its not that he is taking flowers spot he is adding quality depth for us to have versus elite offensive teams(Broncos)! Come week 11 the broncos are gonna be in trouble because we match up perfect in size an speed with there recievers. Eric Decker=Sean Smith,Demarius Thomas= Marcus cooper, Wes welker= Brandon flowers. With these guys in press coverage that will allow our pass rush to get too Manning. Cant wait till we put a end to this BRONCOS BEST TEAM talk!

    • Danny W

      Just food for thought. Nothing wrong with having an emerging corner back that could beat out your best potentially.

      • Joe ThisnThat Woodley

        Exactly Danny W! you can never have to much depth on your roster in the NFL! we will need all of our defensive backs come playoff time an its great Marcus Cooper is getting prepared now so he is ready for elite offenses.

    • Auburn78

      I honestly think Smith would be better suited to cover D Thomas. Smith seems to just have the size and strength to take away Thomas’ game. I trust Coop on Decker . And I think our Safetys being athletic enough to cover that hotshot TE can’t be underestimated. I truly feel we match well against them. Our oline is going to HAVE to protect better though.

      • Stacy D. Smith

        Especially since Von Miller will be back for that game.

      • Joe ThisnThat Woodley

        Yea your right Auburn78! Sean Smith might be better on D Thomas, with Marcus Cooper covering E Decker! I trust Eric Berry to slow down Julius Thomas, with Demps an Lewis back at safety patrolling the back deep area

      • spencer

        Flowers covers Welker, Thomas covered by Sean Smith, Decker by Cooper, Thomas (the TE) by Berry/the safeties when Berry is playing linebacker (Charles Woodson/Troy Polamalu roles)…we match up very well , especially with the edition of Cooper agains the Broncos.

        • Joe ThisnThat Woodley

          I was thinking the exact same thing spencer!! GO CHIEFS!! we got the broncos! Defense wins CHAMPIONSHIPS!!!

    • ArrowFan

      Don’t forget Berry on the TE.

  • berttheclock

    In a way, our 7th round 2013 didn’t turn out that bad. Catapano was taken at the top of that round and had a sack on Sunday. Dorsey ended up getting the 2nd from the last pick in that round in Cooper. Plus, from a salary position, both are paid 7th round money. Great work, Mr Dorsey.

    • Stacy D. Smith

      Catapano should have 2 sacks this season. I think he got robbed of one a few weeks back.

      • berttheclock

        On one of those against the Jags, he was just behind Houston.

        • Stacy D. Smith

          I remember now. I thought he should’ve gotten credit for a half sack.

          • berttheclock

            Yeah, that was when Joeckel had to make up his mind who to try to block. Houston cut inside and Catapano looped around him.

  • berttheclock

    There, once, was a young man playing football for high schools in Connecticut. His stats were as follows. He threw one pass for 75 yards and a TD. He ran the ball 18 times for 111 yards. He caught 117 passes for 1965 yards, an average of 16.8 per catch and scored 32 TDs. One of those TDs was for 69 yards.

    Yes, that young man was Marcus Cooper.

    • Stacy D. Smith

      Hell of an athlete.

    • Michael Shaw

      Where the heck do you find this stuff??!!!! Awesome!!

      • berttheclock

        Google can really be your best friend, at times. Just Google, “Marcus Cooper high school stats” and his stats from high school will come up.

  • berttheclock

    As my beloved dearly departed Mom used to say down in the Ozarks, while, fishing, “Son, that is a Keeper”.

  • Calchiefsfan

    Great article Stacy, glad to see you’re giving props to Cooper. He deserves it. I was thinking a few weeks back, before Coop’s emergence, that we needed another quality CB. Dunta is just too slow to handle the speed of the Bronco’s receivers. Then along comes Cooper. I think Peyton is going to have real problems against this D. Now if Reid can get Fisher and Allen up to speed the Chiefs will be ready for the Broncos and the playoffs.

    • Stacy D. Smith

      Robinson should’ve been moved to safety. His skills have diminished considerably.

  • Joe ThisnThat Woodley

    I think we also need to get the ball the MCCLUSTER alot more often, similar to how the saints use daren sproles! I think besides jamaal charles, dexter is our best offensive weapon especially in open space! He is better running back than Knile davis, and cyrus gray. Dexter almost had 600 yards rushing on about 115 atempts in 2011, thats great for someone his size! We have to find ways to get him the ball as a runningback an reciever! We need to use mccluster at running back when charles in tired an put aj jenkins/hemingway in slot so we still have that explosive guy in the backfield to threaten defenses! Also we should have formations designed with both JC, and Dexter in backfield with Alex smith that would make defenses pick there posion! We have to get DEXTER THE BALL!!!!!

    • Stacy D. Smith

      I’d like to see them get the ball to McCluster more often. Especially on screens. A reverse here and there would also be nice. And where’s all of this read option we heard about 3-4 months ago?

      • Joe ThisnThat Woodley

        your exactly right Stacy! i dont get why we dont add more read option every now in then during our games! We ran it a couple time our first 4 games but its been dissappeared here recently! We also need to add some of that Chip kelly spread offense to our system because it gives the quarterback 4 options on one play(Runningback handoff, QB keep, Pop pass toTightend,and slot screen) all in the SAME PLAY!! That would make our offense more explosive since we run alot of shotgun anyway! We gotta get more fire power in the play calling!!

        • Stacy D. Smith

          We gotta start scoring more points.

          • Joe ThisnThat Woodley

            Yea and we need to finish drives for sure with 7 points! But the great thing about Chip Kelly system is that the QB get to make to reads once the ball is hiked based on what the defense is doing,and there are 4 options he can choose from on ONE PLAY! there is no way a defense can stop 4 plays in one! Alex Smith is known for making the right reads/progression so this could really him an the offense move the chains!

    • ArrowFan

      I have noticed McCluster being wide open over the middle and Smith missing him. In his defense Smith is usually running for his life.

      • Stacy D. Smith

        The protection is definitely a factor, but sometimes Smith just needs to get through his reads quicker.

  • ArrowFan

    Prior to this last weekend one could have regarded him as suspect. But I think it is safe to say the Coop is a for real starting CB in the NFL.

    • cd3382

      Agreed and now we have three solid starting CB’s! #depth

  • LeVar Hill

    Everybody is missing 1 key guy with berry down in the box to cover Julius Thomas the tight end and that’s quinton demps. He’s an interception machine with 3 picks in his limited playing time. Man our defense is Denver kryptonite.

    • Stacy D. Smith

      Three picks in three consecutive games even.

      • LeVar Hill

        Yes sir he’s a gamer. That’s our dark Horse that nobody is worrying about and I like that.

        • Stacy D. Smith

          It’s good to have someone on the defense with hands. I can’t count the number of picks DJ, Berry, and Robinson have dropped thus far.

          • LeVar Hill

            Yeah you ain’t lying there. I figure he’ll end up with about 6 or 7 for the year the way he plays the center field with his range. It’s good to be a chiefs fan right now. Feels like all my years of suffering and defending them is finally paying off.

  • jdundore

    While Cooper hasn’t proven that he’s a better corner than Flowers, I think he’s proven he’s got more upside. He’s bigger, faster, and rarely gets out of position. His inexperience is the only thing, in my opinion, that keeps him from taking flowers starting job. This guy is a star in the making and will see pro-bowl after pro-bowl. I’ve been saying the past few years that it was the Chiefs turn to land a stud out of nowhere. There’s been the Victor Cruiz’s and the Arien Foster’s etc. It looks like finally snagged one.

    • Stacy D. Smith

      Three games is too small a sample size to know anything definitive about the kid. I like him quite a bit, but Flowers has been a rock solid part of this defense for years. You can’t surpass him in three games.

  • Jeff Grasser Jr

    Great article Stacy!

  • Jeff Dulaney

    I think he’s the real deal. Happy accidents don’t come on a weekly basis against NFL caliber offenses. This kid is gonna be a QB nightmare in future seasons provided he stays healthy.

    “I’m glad I got beat, you know? It’s always a learning experience for me.”

    With acknowledgement of personal responsibility and a short learning curve he’ll get better at twice the rate of someone laying the blame elsewhere.

  • Berdj Rassam

    49ers top brass were and are still upset that they lost Coop; they thought he would clear waivers and go through unnoticed.

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