Don't Kill the Mellinger

Columnist Sam Mellinger's thoughts on sports and other important stuff

Marcus Cooper is real, guys

10/11/2013 5:00 AM

10/11/2013 9:10 AM

You may have already seen Randy’s story about the Chiefs’ "second draft,"

but I want to bring your attention to something specific GM John Dorsey said about Marcus Cooper:

"He can be as good as he wants to be. He has a lot of ceiling. He can turn and track the vertical throws and catch the ball. He’s got ideal length .. that’s the ideal press corner."

Now, of course you’d expect a GM to be positive about his guy. Especially this GM and this guy, because in a lot of ways Cooper is the best example of shrewd GM-ing that Dorsey has in Kansas City: pulled off the NFL’s equivalent of a flea market just before the season, cut from a good organization, the Chiefs see something the 49ers didn’t and now Cooper is playing like a star.

But think about the specifics of what he said there.

As good as he wants to be a lot of ceiling ideal length ideal press corner


That’s more than typical praise. I talked about this a little on the

Amateur Hour

, but if you could create a profile for hidden star it would sound exactly like Cooper:

- came to the position late, so NFL teams didn’t have a lot of tape on him.

- played at a non-traditional power, so he didn’t have some superstar coach to vouch for him to scouts.

- gets drafted by a loaded team that probably doesn’t give him many looks in training camp.

- picked up by a team with a need, and a system that fits perfectly for his strengths.

That’s Marcus Cooper and the Chiefs, guys. I wrote specifically about

his interception against Tennessee

, and if you read it you see a terrific display of what makes for a good football player: the work ethic and discipline to arrive prepared through video study, the natural instincts about when to make a move, the physical gifts to rip the ball away from a very good receiver, and the balls to do it at a critical point in the game.

This is all a long way of saying that Marcus Cooper is real. This is not a fluke, a comet through the sky.

If you’re into these things, the advanced metrics agree on Cooper. Pro Football Focus, for instance, has Cooper tied as

the ninth best cover corner

in the NFL entering this week’s games. Everyone else in the top 10 (Sean Smith ranks fifth, by the way) has far more snaps than Cooper, too. If you assume Cooper’s same production in a similar number of snaps, he’d be in the top five.

You can wait for Cooper to turn into a pumpkin. But you’ll probably be waiting a long time.

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