Cooper Sports

Detroit Lions Draft Wrap Up by Cooper Sports

Written by Nick Cooper

May 3, 2022

Very few times in recent memory has a player shown so much joy regarding joining a Detroit team of
any kind. Aidan Hutchinson skipped down the sizable runway that led from the green room to the Las
Vegas NFL Draft stage. Hutchinson, a former standout defensive lineman from Devine Child High School
in Dearborn, Michigan, and University of Michigan mega-star in the making, heard his name called by his
literal hometown team.

His feverish bound to the big stage showcased his excitement for being able to stay within 45 minutes of his alma mater. Hutchinson surprising slipped to the Lions after appearing to be the no-brainer #1 overall pick. Aidan’s 14 sacks this season alone dwarfed the actual number 1 pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars, Travon Walker, who had had just 9.5 sacks for the entirety of his Georgia career.

Aidan Hutchinson

The opportunity to even draft the best prospect in the draft is something that is not typically
afforded to the Lions in any year since drafting Matthew Stafford. Hutchinson projects to be an immediate locker room presence and a high-level plug and play defensive lineman that will give the Lion’s Dan Campbell, the tough nosed head coach, the type of player that he has been searching for since joining the Lion’s. If this year’s Heisman Trophy finalist had not won over the Detroit fanbase with his play alone then the way that he joyfully joined the team most certainly will.

Following the unbridled excitement that brought Hutchinson to the Lions more potential super-star
talent fell into the lap of the organization. Jameson Williams, former Alabama Crimson Tide wide
receiver, was scooped up by Detroit. The pick for the potential game changing receiver came at a price
that is relatively steep in current NFL standards. Detroit traded the number 32, 34, and 66 th picks in
exchange for Williams and the 46 th pick which amounts to the 12 th pick in both the first and second
rounds.

While there is some injury concern surrounding a torn ACL in the National Championship game,
he is still on track to be fully medically cleared to return to full health by the start of training camp. A
player of Williams immense talent and game breaking ability is worth the risk especially considering that
the Lions were able to attain another valuable second round pick. Jameson Williams has elite wide
receiver measurables. His 40-yard dash speed was last recorded at 4.3 seconds which is closely
comparable to NFL superstar Tyreek Hill’s 4.29 dash. However, Williams is 4 inches taller and 4 pounds
heavier.

These measurables and the production that he showed in Alabama in the top conference, the
SEC, suggest that Williams could be a perennial Pro-Bowler. His 1,572 yards and 15 touchdowns
highlight production that had some draft analysist choosing Williams as their number one overall pick.
There is little worry that any sort of skill or production will dip as his health progression has been very
encouraging. Enormous potential and next level skill equal another steal for the Lions.

Josh Paschal, defensive tackle out of Kentucky, is another great selection and fit for the Lions. Paschal is
a lien and slippery tackle that can help to funnel the run to Hutchinson. As the draft approached his
stock began to rise due to college performance, measurables, and team leadership. The defensive tackle
adds another leader to Detroit who has sorely lacked one for quite some time. Paschal is a player with
pro bowl potential.

Kerby Joseph out of Illinois is a safety who was a bit of a late bloomer finishing his final season with five
interceptions which tied for the big ten lead. He is rangy and athletic and has a chance to be a solid
starter if he can refine his game and build upon a solid final season at Illinois.

James Mitchell Virginia tech- major injury issues and production issues. Great measurables 6’4” but a lot
of question marks regarding durability make this pick a wait and see type situation.

Malcolm Rodriguez out of Oklahoma State is an exciting linebacker who has both impressive
measurables and massive production. The Lions were able to select the 3-time All Big-12 linebacker with
the ninth pick in the sixth round. Rodriguez tied for seventh in the entirety of the FBS in the solo tackle
category with seventy-six. Rodriguez was also the Fiesta Bowl MVP with gaudy numbers that would
indicate a high probability of future success. Rodriguez is an athletic marvel having won state football
titles as a quarterback and defender as well as winning the Oklahoma high school state championship in
wrestling. Ultimately, the fall in the draft appears to be a height concern as Rodriguez is shorter for the
linebacker position, standing at 5’11”. The ceiling is extremely high for this prospect and appears to be a
major steal.

James Houston from Jackson State is a defensive end who is a bit of a calculated risk as he missed more
than three quarters of the college football season. He has size and potential but needs to work on his
overall technique and he needs to stay healthy to reach his ceiling which could be a mid to high level
starter.
The selection of Chase Lucas from Arizona State is another solid selection. The cornerback only lacks
top-end speed (4.48 40-yard dash) but produced once he hit the scene in Arizona State as a freshman.
Lucas is a bit below average for the ideal corner in the NFL but at pick 237 he is a steal if he reaches
what could be an impressive ceiling.

The Detroit Lions rebuild has been a dumpster fire for quite some time. It would appear that the
dumpster fire may be making a turn and becoming something like a bonfire. Dan Campbell has fire
starters in Aidan Hutchinson and Jameson Williams. To build on that flame is something that is a bit
trickier. The Lions appear to have made strides in drafting talented players who have potential and
leadership that fit in to Campbell’s mindset of “Biting kneecaps.”

As a lifelong Lions fan, I can confidently say that this draft is a cause for optimism that the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t another train that derails another year, instead it is a flicker of light that signifies that the rebuild could turn the corner with a year of experience under each of these young rookies’ belts and another solid draft and offseason next year. This year may not drastically different than others, but it is a step in the right direction and signifies that NFL kneecaps are in danger.

The Nate Reviews the Tiger’s Start

Through the first 6 games of the season the Detroit Tigers sit at 2-4.  Not a great start by any means.  But it is a good start for a young team in a rebuild that soon could start seeing the benefits of patience, savvy roster construction, and strong player development.  

Game 1, a 5-4 walk-off win against the reigning AL Central champs gave a glimpse in to the impact that patience and proper roster construction can have on a team starting at rock bottom.  Eric Haase a 29-year-old catcher/designated hitter that has been in the farm system for the tigers hit a homerun that started the comeback in the bottom of the 9th highlighting the patience and development that the Tigers have had in their rebuild.   Newly acquired Austin Meadows tripled late in the game showing big time grit.  The most exciting and enticing part of this first Tigers win was Javier Baez having the walk off hit in his very first game with the club.  Spencer Torkelson, the former 1st overall pick, showed that he is more than just a walking extra base hit as he flashed exceptional defensive ability on multiple plays.  When Reilly Greene, another first round pick and top prospect, returns from a foot injury the Tigers look to be in contention for at the very least a shot at the AL Central crown.

Since that game we’ve seen similarities to the Tigers teams that have not been in contention for some time.  Pitching has been an issue as in the past.  In all but one game Detroit has allowed 5 or more runs.  Casey Mize, yet another number 1 overall pick, hasn’t started strong but given sheer talent it’s within reason that he will round into some semblance of what his potential suggests by years end.  

Excitement is abuzz over this young Tigers team.  Yet, a familiar face who has led his team to much success is somehow almost flying under the radar.  Miguel Cabrera is set to become just the 7th member of the 3000 hits and 500 home runs club.  This achievement from one of only 10 Triple Crown winners is something that is truly once in a generation special.  In my opinion, Miguel Cabrera is arguably the greatest right-handed hitter of all time and the perfect example of how to achieve and maintain success for this young budding team.  

With the franchise seeing a small bit of light at the end of the tunnel I expect the city of Detroit to begin to rally around this team and prove once more that Detroit is a baseball city. 

Cooper Sports – Matt Stafford GOAT? – Argument is Made for a Yes

Written by Nick “The Nate” Cooper

In a 2021 Super Bowl year for the Los Angeles Rams, Cooper Kupp had one of the great wide receiver seasons of all time.  His 1,947 yards are the second most single-season yards gained by any receiver in NFL history.  This is a major jump in production for a player that did not enter the conversation as an elite, can’t miss prospect, was as unexpected as anything that we had seen in the NFL, or in all of sports for that matter. 

While this type of production may have been destined to come for Kupp, he certainly would need help in jumping his production to a historic level.  The prospect from Eastern Washington had great production in his college career yet was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2017 NFL Draft.  In an impressive draft class that included Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, and Myles Garrett, Cooper Kupp flew under the radar with hope that his previous production could translate to the NFL.

2012 was a 4-12 season for the Detroit Lions who continued to swim through a never-ending river of mediocrity.  2012 was different though.  Lion’s fans had a reason to care about their bottom dwelling team.  Calvin Johnson was approaching the record held my Jerry Rice for most receiving yards in a single NFL season.  The race to the record was tracked closely in Detroit and on a national level not seen since Barry Sanders.  Calvin Johnson had very little help within his own receiving group.  His talent outmatched the lack of depth.  Amazing catch after amazing catch, Calvin Johnson finally obtained the all-time record with elegant fluency as Jerry Rice himself did and became a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Nine years separate these amazing individual seasons.  They are historically connected by one chronically underrated Quarterback, Matthew Stafford.  Stafford was the number 1 pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, selected by the Detroit Lions.  A savior appeared to have arrived for the Lion’s who were hungry for some sort of success and excitement.  Stafford produced excitement for fans immediately.  His amazing arm talent and fearlessness connected him to the city.  Stafford has 1 of just 13 seasons in NFL history in which a Quarterback has thrown for 5,000 yards.

The trade for Matthew Stafford undoubtedly forced Kupp’s destiny to be realized in the 2021 season much the way that Stafford helped to guide Calvin Johnson to history.  Stafford’s success with Kupp and the rest of the Rams highly talented team was easy to see from the very start of the season.  After 12 seasons of battling superior North divisional foes and while also battling his team’s roster inefficiency, Stafford saw an opportunity to move on to a better situation. His effort and ability were never questioned.

36 game winning drives for a team in Detroit that had been consistently starved of victories speaks to his shear will to win. In 2009 in a game against the Cleveland Browns, Stafford was being repeatedly battered and after a devastating hit his shoulder was separated. Most quarterbacks in the situation that he was in, considering record, would have left that game gladly. Stafford stayed in that game and played through pain like a warrior. That injury was one of many for him due in part to the anemic offensive line repeatedly put in front of him.

While you may think of Stafford’s time in Detroit as a disappointment, there are plenty of moments to reflect upon with positivity.  In addition, Stafford has forced people to respect not only his time in Detroit but his impact on the city.  Stafford and his wife Kelly have contributed to the city of Detroit in amazing ways as well. The Stafford’s contributed great amounts of money to many causes affecting Detroit including $220,000 to help aid the community effort during the early stages of the Coronavirus pandemic. As Stafford left Detroit for his greater success, he and his wife donated $1,000,000 to the SAY foundation to help fund the building of multiple valuable resources for the underserved people of Detroit.

Skill, durability, and class separate Matthew Stafford from a long line of quarterbacks that have played before him.  His talent for the sport and his humanity makes Matthew Stafford one of the most impactful sports figures to wear any Detroit uniform.

Cooper Sports – NCAA Men’s Basketball

Written by Nick AKA “The Nate” Cooper

March 16, 2022

‘Tis the season for upsets, Cinderella stories, and introductions to new stars. From Murray State and
Davidson to Duke and North Carolina every year, every team in the field feels as if they have a chance to
raise the National Championship trophy. The NCAA Tournament has introduced us to Larry Bird, Steph
Curry, Ja Morant, and others who were highlighted by their run in this majestic playoff system. So many
unknowns who seem to rise to the moment. If one thing is certain, uncertainty is guaranteed.

Michigan State University Spartans

There is the unknown and then there is Tom Izzo. Izzo who has been to twenty-four straight NCAA Tournaments, eight Final Fours and won the ultimate prize in his time at Michigan State University. Izzo is among the all-time greats and his NCAA Tournament win percentage (.703) is that of the most elite of company. He has gotten the best out of many players- Mateen Cleaves, Draymond Green, Cassius Winston and so many others.

This year MSU tackles Davidson in the first round as the 7th seed in the West region that
includes Duke and Gonzaga who also have massive reputations for winning. Gonzaga the number one
overall seed in the field and Duke at number 8, both have top superstar prospects in waiting. Even in
the “worst of years” under Izzo, Michigan State somehow seems to find a way to make waves. With
four wins against Top 25 ranked teams this year, now is the time where, yet again, Izzo will have to get
the players together.

This team of solid depth can throw well balanced lineups into the game and flex with other team’s roster moves. Even though the outlook may be somewhat grim going into this region of the tournament Michigan State is set to be the Grim Reaper.

University of Michigan Wolverines

The University of Michigan is a bit of a different story as the 11th seed of the South Region facing
Colorado State in the opening round. Michigan limped into the Tournament having finished the season
with a 17-13 record. While they have budding stars in Hunter Dickenson and DeVante’ Jones, Michigan
has also been marred by controversy. Most notably the punch thrown by coach Juwan Howard, with frustration bubbling over in an unbelievable way.

In the South region that includes Villanova and Arizona, Michigan has the potential to band together and make a run based on lack of region depth. If former Wolverine, Howard, can get the best of what his top players are capable of then this team has the opportunity to erase some of this season’s disappointment.

Both Michigan State and Michigan are somewhat foreign to these positions in the field, but both have
the pedigree to surprise the field and return to their own program standards. Brackets are being filled,
teams are readying themselves for the madness, and fans are preparing to be wowed.

Keep April through February. Give me March. Give me insanity, excitement, and hope.

Cooper Sports – Here we Go – PLAY BALL

Written by Nick AKA “The Nate” Cooper

Sportswriter City Watch NEWS

March 13, 2022

The familiarity of the snap of a catcher’s glove in the early spring is something that signals finer weather
is on the way. Familiarity most recently has been something that is all but foreign.

As we enter another year of a pandemic that won’t subside, the outlook of a familiar and comforting
normalcy that a temporary distraction provides was in jeopardy. The too typical tension of a bipartisan
battle, this time in the sports arena, reared its unpleasant head. A work stoppage threatened to derail
at least a portion of the 2022 Major League Baseball season. The snap of the glove and the crack of the
bat looked as if it would be silenced. Much like the occurrence of Watergate (1972) and the O.J.
Simpson scandal (1994) seemed to serve as a parallel reminder that life is indeed an uncalm, non-linear
movement through time.

A pandemic that has seen the world as a whole become a roulette wheel of sickness needs the reprieve of a game that showcases the best that we have to offer. Major League Baseball (MLB) headed by commissioner Rob Manfred and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) headed by former Tiger Tony Clark were at an impasse over multiple issues.

The 99-day stalemate saw a compromise on minimum player salaries, uniform advertisements, and a 12-team playoff field. An international draft also has a potential horizon. This would mean that all players across the globe are subject to being selected by order of losing record as opposed to a free for all surrounded by monetary compensation by larger market teams.

With the compromise that stretches until 2027, Major League Baseball will see a full season kick off on
April 7th. This will allow you to see your favorite team and offer a brief relief from the day to day in favor
of witnessing the inning to inning. I will be able to talk to my grandma about her favorite player, Art
Houtteman and be reminded of all the time that I spent with her dodging in and out of her house trying
to see one of many Miguel Cabrera hits while also soaking up the beautiful summertime.

I will have the ability to take my children to their first MLB game to witness the boys of summer do their very best to beat the opposition. In these crazy times, after a small hiccup, our greatest game will be here for us yet again. In short order it will be time to Play Ball.

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