Good NFL teams consistently hit on their draft picks on days one and two. GREAT teams also hit on prospects in the latter rounds and even in their pools of undrafted free agents.
The Chargers have been one of the best at finding gems among their undrafted players and there’s a good chance that trend continues under Brandon Staley.
One of this year’s deepest sleepers in the entire 2021 draft class is Merrimack offensive guard, Sam Cooper. According to Justin Melo of The Draft Network, he’s been receiving a ton of buzz lately and yes, he’s met with the Chargers.
Seeing lots of buzz on Merrimack LG Sam Cooper.— Justin M (@JustinM_NFL) April 8, 2021
He's spoken w/ the #Browns a bunch. The #Dolphins & #Chiefs have shown interest. #Texans, #Giants,(met a bunch of times) #Patriots & #Vikings attended his Pro Day. Met w/ scouts from #Chargers, #Bills, #Falcons & #Eagles at an ASG.
At his recent pro day, Cooper measured in at 6’2 and 308 pounds. He proceeded to impress the scouts in attendance with a 5.10 in the 40, 35 reps on the bench press, and a 7.69 in the cone. Most notably, however, was his 10-yard split of 1.63, which would have tied him for the fastest split among all lineman in last year’s draft alongside Bucs right tackle Tristan Wirfs.
Under-the-radar draft prospect who's been generating some buzz lately: Merrimack guard Sam Cooper.— Zack Cox (@ZackCoxNESN) April 6, 2021
He's met with the Patriots, Dolphins, Browns, Giants, Chargers, Vikings, Falcons, Eagles, Texans, Bills and Chiefs. Nine teams were at his pro day. pic.twitter.com/1dAKbdUoBJ
Cooper’s first three seasons in college were spent at the University of Maine from 2015-2017. After playing in just four games during that span, he transferred to Merrimack, an FCS school that just recently moved up from Division II. During his two seasons, Cooper started 16 total games before his final season was postponed due to COVID-19.
Even without the 2020 campaign, Cooper still received multiple offers to attend all-star showcases, including the East-West Shrine Game and the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.
I’m not necessarily sure where Cooper is supposed to end up being drafted, but later on day three is likely a safe bet. He’s a bit undersized, but those athletic testing numbers are as solid as they come for his position. For a late round flier, the Bolts could do a lot worse.