Zerrick Cooper is a 6’4" 206-pound Quarterback from Jonesboro, Georgia. He has been touted as a top-10 Quarterback in the class of 2016 by just about every major recruiting database. Scout.com lists his strengths as mental toughness, mobility, and size with accuracy, arm strength, and consistency listed under areas to improve.
Many have questioned Cooper’s arm strength, but as you can see in the play below, he is definitely capable of rifling it when he needs to.
I think the criticisms of his arm strength are a little misleading because he throws the football with great touch and loves to just drop the ball into the receiver’s arms. Also, WRs have a much easier time of getting open at the high school level, so a lot of his throws are to wide open receivers, which is one of the reasons he puts a lot of touch on most of his passes.
Some recruiting experts have been on the record criticizing his accuracy, but you can see in the play below that he is capable of throwing the ball into tight coverage.
From what I’ve seen of Cooper, he has shown he is capable of making all of the throws. The only question to me is whether he can make all of those throws on a consistent basis. We won’t be able to answer that question until he puts on a Clemson uniform and trots onto the field as a starter, which we don’t plan on seeing until after Deshaun Watson is selected as the #1 overall pick in the NFL Draft whenever he decides to make the leap.
One of my favorite qualities of Cooper’s is that his eyes are always focused downfield.
As you can see in this play, his eyes never shift away from his downfield receivers and, as a result, he is able to avoid the pressure and make a huge play. I think he compares favorably to Watson in this sense. The reason Watson was so successful against Alabama was his ability to keep his eyes downfield and not focus on the rush, even when he was avoiding the Tide’s Defensive Linemen coming at him.
I watched an interview with Cooper on Born 2 Compete, and he said the main reason he chose Clemson was because of the relationship he had built with Dabo. He also noted that he was excited to play under Deshaun Watson, another Georgia high school football star, and that it would help in his development as a Quarterback. I’m definitely impressed with his desire to learn, as well as the resiliency he showed in coming back from a torn ACL that took away his junior season.
I am really excited to see Cooper play against top 25 competition if/when he inherits the starting job from Watson. The future of the Quarterback position at Clemson looks very bright.
My take is that sportswithjim did an awesome job with this analysis. Cooper got dinged in rankings and things because the junior season is really when most of the recruitniks make their decisions and all-star games do their own recruiting for players. Cooper had a slow start to his senior year, but came on towards the end. Cooper was also a wanted man on the recruiting trail and turned down many offers of secret visits to campuses from rivals (and even attended Florida's Friday Night Lights thingy, although the claim was that it was just to drop off another recruit). Needless to say, he was a well respected commodity, especially in the summer.
You like Cooper's size and his decent arm strength. He needs time to regain his mobility after the ACL injury though. Everyone has him rated as a duel threat QB, but he much more of a pocket passer than a Deshaun Watson and would change Clemson's scheme somewhat if he was the starter. The great thing is that Cooper will have a year to get fully healthy and regain some foot speed while he hones his craft at the college level.
Cooper’s Senior Highlight Film: