The Eagles selected Florida wide receiver Riley Cooper in the fifth round with the 159th overall selection of the 2010 NFL draft. Cooper had a productive career at Florida, winning a BCS National Championship his junior year and catching 81 passes for 1,496 yards and 18 touchdowns in his 51 career games.
In addition to his exploits on the football field, Cooper was also a standout baseball player, twice selected in the MLB draft (15th round by the Philadelphia Phillies in 2006 and 25th round by the Texas Rangers in 2009). Bloghead caught up with Cooper this weekend to get the scoop on his decision to play football over baseball, what it was like being Tim Tebow's roommate, and how he sees himself fitting in with the Eagles.
Q. What was the pre-draft process like for you?
It's been a long process for sure. My first thing was the Senior Bowl, then I went on to the combine, then I went on to Pro day. It was definitely a long process and tedious but I'm glad it's over, I'm glad I'm going to Philadelphia; it's a great fit and I'm really looking forward to getting up there Thursday and meeting all the guys and working out.
Q. What kind of viewing party did you have for the draft and who called you to give you the news?
I was at the house (in Tampa, Fl.) with some close friends, just watching it. Coach Reid called me and said, 'Hey we're going to get you. Are you healthy, are you ready to go?' I said 'Absolutely, let's do it.'
Q. How would you describe yourself as a player?
I ran a 4.48 (40-yard dash). I'm 222 (pounds), 6-foot-4, have good hands. I know how to use my frame to my advantage with boxing out (defensive backs), knowing how to use my body to my benefit. That's the type of player I am. I'm obviously really physical, I do pretty well with bump and run and using my hands with (defensive backs) and things like that. That's kind of the player I am, and I obviously love blocking, you've seen that on film.
Q. Explain that passion for blocking.
Yeah, I take a lot of pride in blocking. (Florida head coach Urban Meyer) said to me a couple months ago that I'm the best blocking wide receiver he's ever coached and he's obviously one of the best, so it means a lot coming from a guy like that.
Q. Explain the decision to play football over baseball.
Well I signed with the Texas Rangers last summer and I told them, 'Hey I want to go back for my senior season at Florida and play football.' It took them a little while to finally say 'OK', but they let me luckily. And I've known all growing up that I wanted to be a football player, that's my mindset, that's my mentality, that's what I wanted to do. So they let me come back and do it and prove to NFL coaches and teams that I can play at the next level. Coach Reid's given me a shot and I'm ready to go.
Q. What is it about football that makes it your passion?
You can tell whether it's me catching the ball or me backside on a running play that I love football. I'm physical and tenacious, I love the game and that's what I want to do as a career. In baseball, three percent of the people that get drafted make it to the big leagues. So, the odds are not in my favor. I'm two feet into football, I'm ready to go.
Q. What kind of familiarity do you have with the Eagles offense and their group of receivers?
I mean I have a little idea of who they have. I think coach is going to send me some mail tomorrow and get me more familiar with the offense and then when I get up there Thursday, we'll hit the film study hard and get after it.
Q. What was it like being Tim Tebow's roommate, and is a part of you looking forward to proving yourself on your own?
That's a good way to put it I guess. I wouldn't take back anything that happened at Florida. I had an absolute blast; (Tebow) was the best, obviously a first-rounder. He's going to be very successful in the NFL for sure. But I'm ready to start that next chapter in my life for sure. That's what we all work so hard for in college, for that next step in the NFL and normally you don't end up on the same team as your previous quarterback. I don't know if it's a Tebow thing or not, but I'm really anxious to start this next chapter for sure.
Q. The Eagles drafted five players from the SEC, what does that say about the level of competition you played against?
That's a given. The SEC is the hardest conference, no one can tell me any different. It's tough and I think that the SEC has got me ready to play in the NFL. I know the NFL game is going to be faster a little bit, but playing in the SEC, that's the closest thing to the NFL to tell you the truth. There's a lot of talent that's the best of the best and it's definitely got me prepared.
Q. How prepared are you for the rabid Eagles fans after playing in front of Florida Gator fans for four years?
I'm used to it. Philadelphia fans, I know they love going to games and I know they love their football so I'm obviously really excited for this and it'll be fun.
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 10:46 a.m., April 26