Cooper Rush, QB, Central Michigan: 2017 NFL Draft Scouting Report
A college quarterback with a 3.8 GPA and composure would seem to be a sought after commodity come the draft in April.
Playing at Central Michigan may not be the biggest stage in college football, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that tough games don’t end up on the schedule.
Playing through his senior year, Rush had himself a decent year despite his team only finished 6-6 in the regular season and falling short in their bowl game.
Weight: 230 lbs
In week two of this past campaign, Rush and the Chippewas went on the road to take on the Oklahoma State Cowboys. This would be the biggest test the Chippewas would face this year. Rush completed 72.1 percent of his passes for 368 yards, and threw four scores against a single interception in the 30-27 victory.
The kid’s got brains; he graduated magna cum laude with a 3.86 GPA. Brains usually equate to composure in the pocket, knowing when to sit tight and relax and not be a hero. He has this in his arsenal.
Scouts tend to question Rush’s arm strength but that doesn’t seem to be as big of a concern as it is being made out to be, as he had six games last year with at least a 40-yard completion.
He completed 56 percent or more of his passes each of his seasons under center at CMU, so he has some accuracy. He does throw too many picks, as we’ll get to later, but he has some tools to work with.
His size is also intriguing. He’s only ten pounds less than Ben Roethlisberger, who we know is not an easy guy to take down. On top of that, Big Ben has two inches on Rush, making Rush’s frame more compact and very difficult to bring down. Don’t be fooled by the 37 sacks he took this past season; when multiple defenders get by the offensive line, pretty much any quarterback will taste grass. He’d obviously have much improved protection at the next level.
Brains are great for almost all aspects of the game, except it can be a thorn in the side of some signal callers, such as Ryan Fitzpatrick, who Rush reminds me of. Some quarterbacks overthink when they’re throwing instead of using pure instinct, which leads to interceptions. Rush’s 23-16 touchdown to interception ratio last season may not seem poor on the surface. However, he had four multiple interception games, including two games with three picks. Having a bunch of multiple interception games in the pros creates controversy and is hard to overlook.
He may not have a lot of opportunities to start early on and turning the ball over often won’t help his job security.
He’s also not mobile enough. Nowadays, quarterbacks in the NFL move around all the time, including a few guys in his own draft class (Deshaun Watson, DeShone Kizer, and plenty more) that make him less attractive. He only had four games last season with positive rushing yardage.
Playing in the Mid-American Conference doesn’t exactly compare to the NFL. He may have played for four years but he didn’t play enough football against worthy opponents. There isn’t enough of a sample size for teams to jump up and grab him.
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Rush had a much better junior year and he would’ve been better off declaring a year ago. He had a higher completion percentage, more touchdowns and less interceptions. Maybe he had potential to go in fourth or fifth round last year. This year, he might have a shot in the sixth or seventh round, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he didn’t get taken come April.
However, he is a prime candidate to be invited to camp. There are more than enough teams starving for a quarterback to let Rush come in and throw some passes. If Jimmy Garoppolo leaves New England via trade, maybe Belichick and company roll the dice on Rush. Maybe Carson Palmer calls it quits and Rush ends up with a camp invite to Arizona.
His situation is eerily comparable to Trevor Siemian. His junior year was better than his senior year, which was cut short due to injury. He was picked in the seventh round of the draft a few years back and got his shot with the Broncos last season. He may have kept the job last season because the Broncos had no better options at the time, but his lack of deep throws kept the offense off the board far too often. If Rush can tune his game and air out the ball more, maybe he gets a shot like Siemian and runs with it.
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