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Is Cooper Kupp still a top-5 wide receiver in the NFL?

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San Francisco 49ers v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Over the span of a little over a year, the NFL media seems to have forgotten a lot on what made the Los Angeles Rams so good during their Super Bowl run. Sean McVay is no longer a top-5 head coach, Matthew Stafford isn’t a top-15 quarterback, and a defense led by Aaron Donald is projected to be the worst in the NFL.

That’s all to be expected coming off of a 5-12 season in which the Rams looked like a shell of their former selves. While they won the Super Bowl in February of 2022, that feels like a lifetime ago. Stafford’s health is in question and McVay may not coach for much longer as he looks to go into broadcasting. Now, coming off of an injury, there are questions on whether or not Cooper Kupp is still a top-5 wide receiver.

Several outlets have released their receiver rankings ahead of the 2023 season and none of them have Kupp inside the top-5 just one year removed from winning the triple crown.

Pro Football Network’s Arif Hasan ranked Kupp at number seven on his list behind Ja’Marr Chase, Davante Adams, AJ Brown, Stefon Diggs, Tyreek Hill, and Justin Jefferson. Here’s what Hasan had to say,

“Cooper Kupp’s dip in production has nothing to do with a dip in his quality of play and more to do with the offense around him. He’s still a high-level threat from the slot and has the ability to win underneath and intermediate with deadliness and can win deep when the offense needs him to. Kupp’s athletic capability is more significant than people think and is more than many of the WRs below him on the list, but he’s not quite as athletic as the players in the top five, limiting his explosive potential. He can still create big plays as he did in his near-record season, but Kupp is better as a space player winning intermediate routes. Either way, there aren’t many things he’s below average at, and he’s a huge asset for the Rams.”

Despite winning the triple crown, Kupp remains underrated by those in the NFL media. Just because he isn’t the athlete that someone like Chase is, he tends to get overlooked. Kupp isn’t a deep threat, but as shown in his touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys last season, he’s more than capable of taking a short pass and breaking away from defenders with his deceptive speed to score.

Kupp was ranked even lower on Sports Illustrated’s top wide receivers list heading into 2023. SI’s Matt Verderame ranked Kupp as the eighth best wide receiver in the NFL behind the guys on Hasan’s list and Jaylen Waddle. Verderame said on Kupp,

“After leading the NFL in receptions (145), receiving yards (1,947) and receiving touchdowns (16) in the Rams’ championship season of 2021, Kupp was expected to do big things last year. Unfortunately, injuries limited him to only nine games. Now healthy once more, the Rams need Kupp to be at his All-Pro best if Los Angeles is going to contend for a playoff spot. While he’s had only a single 1,000-yard season, few receivers are better route-runners, or a tougher cover, than Kupp.”

Prior to his injury last season, Kupp ranked second in the NFL in receptions, fifth in yards, and tied for fourth in touchdowns. His 2.4 yards per route ran ranked eighth and he also led the NFL in yards after the catch. Waddle is a good, young wide receiver, but better than Kupp? Verderame knocks Kupp for only a single 1,000-yard season, but he was on pace for 1500 yards last season and likely would have hit 1,000 in 2018 had he not gotten hurt.

The last wide receiver ranking comes from Pro Football Focus. PFF was the nicest when it comes to Kupp in 2023 as Sam Monson ranked him just outside the top-5 at number six. Said Monson,

“Kupp played in just nine games in 2022 in a Rams offense that was collapsing around him and still racked up 95 targets and 75 catches a season after posting one of the finest single-season performances in NFL history. Kupp is an elite route runner, technician and blocker who lines up predominantly in the slot but can still torch defensive backs on the outside when needed. He has broken 10 or more tackles for three straight seasons.”

This is what gets lost about Kupp’s 2022 season. Yes, he only played in nine game. However, in those nine games, not only did the defense key in on him, but they knew Kupp was getting the ball. With Allen Robinson and Stafford not on the same page, Van Jefferson dealing with in injury, and no run game to speak of, the Rams offense went through Kupp. Yet, he still managed to be among the NFL leaders in major wide receiver statistical categories. Despite missing half the season, Kupp finished with a 4.5 percent DVOA which was the same as Ja’Marr Chase. DVOA for a wide receiver gives the player value on a per play basis.

Due to injury and the lack of team success, Kupp’s stock has dropped heading into the 2023 season. However, in the games that he did play, the Rams wide receiver showed that he is still among the NFL’s best.

If Sean McVay’s offense can get back on track this season and Kupp stays healthy, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him back in the top-5 at this time next year.