First half: Good!
Second half: Not so good
The first half of Cooper's rookie season is why he was voted the team's rookie of the year last weekend at the 101 Awards. He was terrific for a team that won nine straight games to open the season.
The second half of Cooper's rookie season is why you get tweets like this:
So obviously the thing to fix here is how Cooper can put in a full season. For his part, Cooper seems to understand that, according to an interview he did on 610 Sports on Monday morning.
"I think we all saw that I started to dwindle out in the middle of the season," Cooper told the guys on 610 Sports. "I think it's called the rookie wall, you know? I started to run into that but that's something I'm prepared for now. I know how long the season is."
I'm not as down on Cooper as others seem to be. I see a 7th round pick, for whom I had very low expectations, turn in an excellent first half of the season and a second half of the season that made me remember that he's a 7th round pick.
Cornerbacks are on an island and they're going to get burned. Cooper seemed to understand the mindset you need -- that the most important play is the next one.
"The first lesson I learned," Cooper said, "you can't dwell on anything that's happened, good or bad."
Cooper said among his biggest learning lessons heading into next season is his technique. I see his ceiling as still fairly high because he has the size and athleticism that the Chiefs look for at his position. And because he had significantly less time to learn the nuances of Bob Sutton's defense than anyone else, joining the team a week before the season. With week-to-week game plans being the focus, I wonder how much in-season development there is for young players. A full offseason could help that.
Of course, he could still end up being a bust who doesn't pan out long-term. That's still possible. But I choose to look at his upside, rather than him playing half of last season like, well, a 7th round pick.