Cleveland Browns sign third-round draft pick Xavier Cooper
By Thomas Moore
Nov 29, 2013; Seattle, WA, USA; Washington Huskies quarterback Keith Price (17) is tackled by Washington State Cougars defensive end Xavier Cooper (96) during the second half at Husky Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
The Cleveland Browns signed defensive lineman Xavier Cooper on Tuesday, according to the team’s website.
Cooper was chosen in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft with the 96th overall selection, a pick the Browns received as part of a trade with the New England Patriots.
The 6-foot-3, 293-pound Cooper seems like a player born to play in the AFC North Division as, according to his draft profile at NFL.com, “(Cooper has) quick, lateral footwork for plus penetration. Active hands create separation from blockers against the run and help him gain advantage as pass rusher. Rarely gives offensive linemen a static target to strike and it’s hard to land a solid, sustained punch on him. Times snap well and fires off the ball. Has ability to sync quickness of hands and feet for early wins along the line of scrimmage. Can transition fluidly from playing the run to rushing passer against play-action. Played defensive tackle and defensive end.”
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“I really felt like he was a difference maker,” Browns general manager Ray Farmer said on draft night. “The guy played with an unbelievable motor. He ran and hustled to the ball, showed that first step quick explosion to beat block and get up the field. I think the guy has got potential to be really, really good NFL player.”
Cooper grew up playing soccer and didn’t take up organized football until he was a freshman in high school. Since then, he has taken the footwork skills he developed on the soccer pitch and used them to help him battle opposing lineman on the football field.
“(Cooper) is quick for a guy his size,” fellow rookie Nate Orchard told The Plain Dealer. “You almost think he’s a defensive end, but that’s just another asset and another tool we can use on that defensive line in third-and-long situations in sub packages.”
At Washington State, recorded 121 career tackles, 31.5 tackles for loss, 13 sacks, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries in 36 career games.
Cooper is expected to see time in the defensive line rotation as the Browns look to fix a run defense that was last in the NFL in 2014.
Cooper is the fourth draft pick the Browns have signed, joining Randall Telfer, Nate Orchard and Charles Gaines. First-round selection Danny Shelton has reportedly also signed a contract, although the club has not officially announced the signing.