Rams receiver Cooper Kupp poised to be a starter

“My expectation is to come in here and help win games,” Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp said.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

He walked off the field after his final high school football game without a single college scholarship offer.

On Wednesday, Rams rookie receiver Cooper Kupp arrived at training camp at UC Irvine listed as a probable starter on the initial depth chart.

That’s how much Kupp apparently impressed coach Sean McVay after the Rams selected the record-setting Eastern Washington star in the third round of the NFL draft.


“All that stuff’s speculation,” Kupp said of the depth chart. “I still haven’t done anything yet.”

Kupp was part of a draft class that includes tight end Gerald Everett, a second-round pick, safety John Johnson (third round), receiver Josh Reynolds (fourth), linebacker Samson Ebukam (fourth), fullback Sam Rogers (sixth), and defensive linemen Tanzel Smart (sixth) and Ejuan Price (seventh).

Drafted players and other rookies reported Wednesday. Veterans must report by Friday. The first full-squad workout, one of 15 open to the public, is Saturday.

“My expectation is to come in here and help win games,” Kupp said. “That’s the most important part, the most important statistic.”

The Rams, coming off a 4-12 season, had the NFL’s worst offense the last two seasons.

It is expected to change under McVay, who oversaw a potent passing attack as the Washington Redskins’ offensive coordinator.


In March, the Rams signed free-agent receiver Robert Woods to join a position group that includes veteran Tavon Austin. Then they focused on bolstering their receivers through the draft.

Kupp, 24, stood out during rookie camp and also during organized team activities and a minicamp. He came in with a reputation for preparedness, and it showed.

“I would like people to say that when they describe the type of player I am,” he said. “Someone that prepares like a pro.”

Kupp, 6 feet 2 and 205 pounds, is the grandson of former NFL lineman Jake Kupp and the son of Craig Kupp, a former NFL quarterback. But he did not attract much major college attention.

During his career at Davis High in Yakima, Wash., Kupp said, Yale expressed interest. But that fell through and he finished his prep career unsure about his next step.

“It was tough,” he said of having no scholarship offers. “There’s no feeling like that thought. I believed I could play at the next level, but there’s that voice in the back of your head saying, ‘Well, right now no one else thinks that you can.’

“But that didn’t change my idea. My thoughts were, ‘I can do this. I know I can play at the next level. ’”

Kupp subsequently heard from and visited Idaho State and Eastern Washington.

He signed on at Eastern Washington, was a redshirt in 2012, and then went on to establish Football Championship Subdivision records for receptions, touchdown catches and receiving yards.

Throughout college, Kupp said he studied star NFL receivers Larry Fitzgerald, Antonio Brown and A.J. Green.

“Receiver is an art — there is not one way to do it,” Kupp said. “And all of these guys play the position very differently.

“I draw a little bit into my game from each of those guys.”

McVay and Les Snead, Rams general manager, evaluated Kupp on tape, on the field at the Senior Bowl, during workouts and an interview at the NFL scouting combine, and in private workouts.

The Rams did not have a first-round pick in the draft, a byproduct of the historic trade that enabled them to move up and select Jared Goff No. 1 in 2016. They took Everett in the second round and then tabbed Kupp.

The receiver had already developed a rapport with Goff, who shares the same agent. But even while catching passes from young free-agent quarterbacks during a rookie camp, Kupp stood out.

“Cooper was a guy that consistently showed up,” McVay said after the camp ended.

Kupp continued to stand out when the full squad practiced. After minicamp ended in June, he continued to work with Goff and other players during the run-up to training camp.

Now he is poised to begin preparation for his first NFL season, in an offense that features multiple receivers.

“I understand what we’re trying to accomplish with it,” he said. “I think it fits my game well.”

Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @latimesklein