Riley Cooper selected by Philadelphia Eagles in fifth round
Former Florida wide receiver and Clearwater Central Catholic standout Riley Cooper was selected in the fifth round of the NFL draft on Saturday, the 159th overall selection.
Cooper, who finished his career at Florida with 81 receptions for 1,496 yards (18.5 avg.) and 18 touchdowns, extended Florida’s streak to five consecutive years with at least one receiver selected in the NFL draft. The fifth-round selection was a surprise because the former Cooper had been projected to go higher.
"Some in the league thought he'd be no worse than a third-round pick,'' ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper said.
Although he had been given the label as a possession receiver, analysts said Saturday it's an unfair assessment.
"I like his competitive spirit,'' ESPN Scouts Inc. Director Todd McShay said. [Cooper believes] 'the ball's in the air, it's mine.' He made a lot of plays on passes that missed within the strike zone. I think Philadelphia got an intriguing player.''
Cooper will join an Eagles’ roster loaded at the receiver position, including DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Macklin, Hank Baskett and Jason Avant. But analysts say Cooper has a chance to excel.
“What you have with Cooper is a big target, a guy when you get in the red zone you can throw the fade. You can throw the back-shoulder fade because he can body up. The other Eagles’ receivers are diminutive. Now they have a big-body guy that’s very effective in the red zone.’’
Cooper was the ninth Florida player selected in the 2010 NFL draft, one shy of the school record 10 taken in 1978.