When Cooper Kupp weighed in as a high school freshman, he wore jeans to hide the weights he had wrapped around his ankles. He measured in at 5-foot-4, 119 pounds.
"I wouldn't say much of what I do is natural," Kupp said at the Senior Bowl.
"I was one of those guys that was pretty small, pretty slow, pretty weak. A lot of what I had to do, I had to work. I was behind the curve with a lot of my friends growing up. I learned at an early age that I had to work."
Kupp is an example of a self-made wide receiver who took himself to record-setting heights. At the end of his time at Eastern Washington, he set the all-time college record (at every level) for career receptions (428), receiving yards (6,464) and receiving touchdowns (73).
The Ravens are looking for a complementary wide receiver after the retirement of Steve Smith Sr., and they could find it in free agency. But if they don't, or if they're looking for a sure-handed, chain-moving wideout in the draft, Kupp may draw their interest.
Kupp was one of the most impressive players during the three days of practice at the Senior Bowl, and is now projected as a possible second-to-middle-round pick. ESPN's Todd McShay said he boosted his stock more than any other player.
Opponents often underestimate Kupp's speed, but he got over top of cornerbacks on several occasions for big gains. He recorded the fastest top speed (20.7 miles per hour) of any player on the North squad during the three days of practice.
What Kupp is best at is his route-running, which often left cornerbacks scrambling to recover, and catching the ball smoothly with his sure hands. He showed an ability to get off press coverage, as well as get open in a zone. Combine all of that with a now 6-foot-1, 198-pound frame, and Kupp is a tough assignment.
But not many people saw this coming from Kupp, despite the fact that he comes from football bloodlines.
His father, Craig Kupp, had a brief NFL career as a quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys, Arizona Cardinals and New York Giants. His grandfather, Jake Kupp, is a New Orleans Saints Hall of Famer and Pro Bowler who played guard for 12 years for the Saints, Cowboys, Washington Redskins and Atlanta Falcons.
Still, Cooper was overlooked at his high school in Yakima, Washington. Just two schools – Eastern Washington and Idaho State – made offers.
Though he was playing against small-school competition most of the time, Kupp proved himself against the top competition when he got the chance. He caught 40 passes for 716 yards and 11 touchdowns in four games against Pac-12 teams.
When he arrived at the Senior Bowl, things had changed for Kupp. He was one of the most buzzed-about prospects at the game, and he delivered on the hype.
"I'm not trying to prove anything to anyone," Kupp said. "I don't come down here with a chip on my shoulder. I'm me, regardless of where I played or what I've done. … All I can do is come out here and be the player I have been. There's people that just haven't seen me yet."