NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – Recent graduate and team captain Sam Cooper of the Merrimack College football team is primed for a potential selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, which commences this evening with the opening round.
The 2021 NFL Draft will be held in Cleveland, Ohio with the first round occurring this evening beginning at 8 p.m., followed by the second and third rounds on Friday (7 p.m.) and rounds No. 4-7 on Saturday (12 p.m.). Coverage of the 2021 NFL Draft can be seen on various networks over the next three days, including on ABC, ESPN and the NFL Network.
Cooper’s Draft Stock Rises
Cooper has seen his draft stock rise in recent months as he aims to be the program’s first-ever selection in the NFL Draft. This winter, the former starting offensive lineman for the program earned selections to the East-West Shrine Bowl, Hula Bowl and Tropical Bowl where he made a name for himself among professional scouts and media members.
He appeared in 16 games for the Warriors in 2018 and 2019. The Warriors’ starting left guard and Team Captain last fall, Cooper was part of a Merrimack offense that was one of the best in the Northeast Conference (NEC). Cooper’s blocking helped the Warriors to rank second in scoring offense (31.0 points per game), and third in total offense (368.3 yards per game), rushing offense (162.3 yards per game) and passing offense (206.0 yards per game).
Under-the-radar draft prospect who's been generating some buzz lately: Merrimack guard Sam Cooper.
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— Zack Cox (@ZackCoxNESN) April 6, 2021
Cooper in the Media
Cooper’s upbringing and journey to becoming a potential NFL Draft selection has gained traction in the media as well. The Nigerian native was fueled and motivated by family tragedy – having lost both his brother and father at a young age – to initially play college football at the University of Maine before transferring to Merrimack prior to the 2018 season. Cooper’s personal story has been featured in pieces by The Eagle Tribune, ABC 6 Action News (Pa.), and College2Pro.
Aaron Wilson: Merrimack standout guard Sam Cooper has overcome family tragedy to build path to NFL: @MerrimackFB @DACOOP66 @NFL @NFLPA @Patriots @TropicalBowlUSA @NFLPABowl @ShrineBowl @BoMarchionte @JimNagy_SB #NFLDraft2021 #DraftDayhttps://t.co/kp32yE6JKT— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) April 29, 2021
Nine NFL programs attended Cooper’s Pro Day on campus, and he’s met with more than a dozen NFL franchises entering the draft. His workout included a 5.1-second 40-yard dash with a 1.69-second 10-yard split and pumped out 35 bench-press reps at 6-foot-2, 308 pounds. Cooper’s draft prospects have been included in reports by The Athletic, Boston.com, NESN and USA Today among others. His official prospect page is available on NFL.com.
More Merrimack Prospects
In addition to Cooper, recent graduate and Merrimack defensive back Jovan Grant has also aspirations to play professionally. The Phil Steele Preseason All-NEC selection last fall competed at the College Gridiron Showcase (Jan. 17-21) in Fort Worth, Texas, playing in front of scouts from the NFL as well as the CFL. Merrimack’s starting safety in 2019 finished second on the team in tackles with 49.
The duo of Warriors hope to join a quartet of former Warriors with NFL experience including Tony Johnson ’11, Shawn Loiseau ’12, Isaiah Voegeli ’12, and Dillon Salva ’18.