As expected, Washington State defensive end Xavier Cooper was selected on Day 2 of the 2015 NFL Draft. Cooper came off the board in the third round, going to the Cleveland Browns with the No. 96 pick. Cooper is the first Washington State player picked this season with Vince Mayle and Connor Halliday possibly joining him later in the draft.
When Cooper initially declared for the draft, despite having a year of eligibility remaining, some thought it was a mistake. The more he went through the draft process, the more obvious it became Cooper made the right decision. He went from a relative unknown to many before the draft to a top 100 prospect thanks to an excellent showing at the NFL Scouting Combine. As we saw during his WSU career, Cooper is very athletic for a guy his size. There aren't many 300 pounders -- even in the NFL -- who move the way he does. We saw that first hand at WSU with Cooper bouncing around the line, but seemingly always being productive.
After redshirting his freshman season in 2011, Cooper became an immediate contributor for the Cougars. He didn't play in the 2012 season opener against BYU then came off the bench the next two games. It wasn't until the Colorado game Cooper stepped into the starting lineup and then he never left. He tallied seven tackles that game, including three tackles for loss and a sack. At that point, it was obvious the Cougars had a player. He went on to play in 36 games, including 34 straight starts to finish his WSU career. Playing in WSU's 3-4 scheme, Cooper never put up huge sack numbers but did finish with 13 career sacks and a whopping 31.5 tackles for loss. His quickness helped him get in the backfield on the regular, despite drawing extra attention from offensive lines.
For whatever reason, Cooper seemed to be at his best against the Oregon Ducks. In three games against the Ducks, he racked up 15 tackles, 5 tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks. Oh and a touchdown. We couldn't possibly forget this.