EL PASO, TEXAS (KTSM) – Coming from El Paso and playing his college football at Arizona, NFL defensive back prospect Tristan Cooper is used to being overlooked.
“There’s been a lot of adversity, but I know for a fact that it’s part of a journey and it will all pay off eventually,” the NFL Draft hopeful told KTSM before the draft.
A two-star recruit coming out of Andress High School in 2016, Cooper’s Arizona Wildcats never won more than seven games in any of his four seasons patrolling the defensive secondary in Tucson. He thinks it’s directly affecting his NFL Draft stock.
“There’s going to be a lot of guys drafted that I know that I’m better than, but the thing is they played on better teams than me,” said Cooper.
He capped off his Arizona career with a solid senior season, tallying 47 tackles and 2 pass breakups for the Wildcats. However, his lead-up to the Draft has been difficult. The outbreak of COVID-19 canceled Arizona’s Pro Day, which meant Cooper had to get creative.
He and his agent and trainers set up a virtual Pro Day, in which he went through all the normal workouts, then sent the videos to team across the NFL. The goal is that it’s enough to get Cooper’s name called.
For his part, Cooper doesn’t think he’ll be taken in any of the draft’s seven rounds this weekend. Instead, he’s fully prepared to go the undrafted free agent route, which might be fitting given his journey so far.
“Hopefully I at least get into the late rounds, but I’m expecting a phone call after the draft actually. I know once I get on a team, I’ll be perfectly fine.”
Cooper is right to be confident; he made the national highlights a few times with big hits at Arizona. The safety thinks his strong tackling ability is what makes him a potential pro.
“If I meet you in the hole, you’re not going to break my tackle,” Cooper said. “Am I the best cover guy? No, there’s guys better than me. But I know for a fact, I’m probably the best tackler.”
Cooper told KTSM that he’s had conversations with the Atlanta Falcons, Dallas Cowboys, Indianapolis Colts and Los Angeles Chargers throughout the draft process.
All he needs is one team to take a chance, and give him his shot to make an NFL roster.