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2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Niko Cooper, DE/OLB, Western Kentucky

Niko Cooper, DE/OLB, Western Kentucky
Ryan Vidales of the Hula Bowl breaks down standout pass rusher/linebacker Niko Cooper from Western Kentucky University. Check out his thoughts on the WKU standout below.

Player Data

Name, Jersey #Niko Cooper, #48
School (Code)Western Kentucky University (KYWE)
Class Yr6th year Redshirt Senior
Height, Weight6040e, 240e
40 Yd Dash4.73e
Position/DepthWDE, #1
Season Viewed (yr)2023
Games WatchedFLSO, @OHST, @ALTR, @ALJA, @TXEP
Scout Name / DateRyan Vidales 11/6/23

Per Year Stats

2023(At Western Kentucky) 9 GP, 32 Tkls, 3.0 TFL, 1.0 Sk, 1 PD
2022(At Western Kentucky) 13 GP, 12 Tkls,1 FF
2021(At Western Kentucky) 13 GP, 9 Tkls, 1.0 TFL
2020(At Nebraska) 7 GP, 3 Tkls
2019(At Hutchinson C.C.) 11 GP, 24 Tkls, 9.0 TFL, 2.5 Sks, 2 FF
2018(At Hutchinson C.C.) DNP

Player Summary:

A sixth-year senior in his third season at Western Kentucky under Head Coach Tyson Helton. He spent two seasons at Hutchinson C.C. (KS) before transferring to Nebraska for the 2020 season. Currently serves as a Defensive End/Outside Linebacker hybrid in Tyson Summers’ 3-4 multiple defensive scheme. Has operated as the Hilltoppers starting WDE for most of the 2023 season. At 6’4, 240, Cooper has a below-average height/weight profile, proficient length, and a slender build. A primary run defender with solid initial quickness and a decent first step to shoot interior running lanes from the 3T and 5T spots. Stays square to the LOS when engaged at the POA. Strong, secure tackler when he can fit up a ball carrier in the first level. Does well to keep opponents outside of his frame when fully extending his arms. Flashes capable use of hands and stack-shed ability to fight through contact. Actively scrapes down the LOS with fine effort and lateral agility to chase down ball carriers from the backside. Possesses a sufficient motor and ample play speed to pursue the ball from sideline to sideline. Will drop into coverage when necessary but can look out of place in open space. Does not strike with heavy hands and struggles to transfer speed to power from his lower half through his upper half. Exhibits inadequate play strength when attempting to seal an edge or occupy a running lane as a two-gap defender. Plays with unfavorable leverage and lacks the size to compensate for his moderate bend and lower-body flexibility. Subpar speed and power rusher off the edge. Does not have a deep set of pass-rush moves to push the pocket consistently. Has the length to deliver a quality long arm but does not generate enough force to get his opponent on his heels. Not one to work a ton of countermoves when his initial move gets thwarted. Offers a good burst to close when pressuring the quarterback, but rarely gets off the ball cleanly. Appears more viable in a 3T alignment at times. However, he lacks the growth potential to slide inside long term. Experienced special teamer who will need to maximize his ST value to carve a niche at the next level.

Scheme Fit:

7T Defensive End in a BEAR front and core special teamer.

Power Statement:

Cooper is an undersized DE/OLB tweener with effective initial quickness, quality length, reliable tackling ability, and capable use of hands to stack & shed blockers at the POA. Below-average pass rusher with menial tackling production throughout his college career.


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