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Draft Central | 2024

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Coach's Corner: KSU coach speaks on Cooper Beebe


FRISCO, Texas — The eight draft picks for the Dallas Cowboys will make their way to The Star this weekend to officially put pen to paper on their rookie contracts and to participate in rookie minicamp, as their NFL careers sit on the verge of their beginnings.

Entering as a rookie brings a lot of excitement, but also a lot of expectation. Especially for the current Cowboys rookie class, there will be a need for immediate contributions from the majority of the draft picks.

In Coach's Corner, we reached out to each of the draftees' college position coaches to find out more about their development in college on and off the field, their fits in Dallas and how it coincided with their time in college, and what they might need to work on before touching the NFL field.

We start with Kansas State offensive lineman Cooper Beebe, who we spoke to Kansas State offensive line coach Conor Riley about regarding these topics.

Q: Whenever Beebe arrived on campus – you definitely have to earn your stripes as a freshman – what did he do early on to cement himself on the field?

A: It's kind of pretty interesting with Cooper, because originally he was recruited as a defensive lineman. He signed his Letter of Intent as a defensive lineman. It was our first year in Coach Klieman's era at Kansas State. As we were evaluating the offensive line, we knew that we had some needs moving forward and felt like Cooper's quickest way to the football field was gonna be on the offensive line. It wasn't until Report Day that he saw his jersey No. 50. He was probably anticipating something in the nineties. What followed after was a text message from me asking to come visit, and I told him we were going to start him out as an offensive lineman. When you look at his redshirt year in 2019, he was a guy that was not down on the service team or on the scout team, he was actually up with the travel team. The things that you could see right away was his physicality and his ability and how mature he was. There was still a developmental piece that he needed in 2019, but with how quickly he was able to pick up our offense coupled with how physical he was at such a young age, it allowed him to be on that travel squad.

Q: Would you say he was a natural whenever he made that transition to the offensive line?

A: Yeah, it became very natural for him. You follow that up with probably an unfair evaluation with where he was at in his first start in 2020. With everything that was going on and the pause, not going through spring ball, the contract tracing…you can look at his first start against Arkansas State and he would readily admit that that it was one of his worst performances. Very quickly thereafter, we went on the road and played a top-five team at Oklahoma that had NFL prospects all across the field on defense, and the growth that he had in just one week's time and the mentality was that what he put on film in that first game was not him. For whatever circumstances that were so challenging going into it, you could see at that particular time that this kid's not just going to be a good player, he's gonna be a really good player. As the course of that season wore on into what was his sophomore season in 2021, you knew he was going to be a special player.

Q: So, it was in 2021 when you guys may have realized you had something pretty great on your hands?

A: I would say it didn't take until the conclusion of 2021 to understand how good of a player he was. One thing you have to understand, in those early years, because of the challenges of 2020, because of having to turn over a roster at Kansas State all prior to the transfer portal, you're looking at a guy that's playing two different positions in one week. He's playing right guard, right tackle. And then because of a lot of guys that contracted COVID late, I'd say, "Cooper, you need to start at left tackle," and he'd say "absolutely." You'd see that versatility and he wasn't a guy that started at left guard until 2022.

Q: Having in mind that he will be most likely trying out for the center job when he arrives in Dallas, what would you say his cerebral makeup looks like and did he ever practice at center for you guys?

A: Yes, he did play some practice reps at center. I knew his value at the next level would be increased with having reps at that position, the one sole position he didn't put a game rep out there. Unfortunately, because of an injury this time a year ago to one of our starting players, because of his versatility, [Beebe] needed to go in and play right tackle. He has played center in practice, more in individual drills and some of our pods or half-line. It won't be completely foreign to him. He has not taken game reps, as that's well-documented. However, as I've told numerous people, based on his mental makeup – which is the thing that allowed him to play so early, allowed him to play so many different positions – he understood conceptually what we were doing offensively. Our centers have been phenomenal players, but if there were any questions on communication on our points or our identifications, you can see them looking to the left to get affirmation and direction from Cooper Beebe, even though that wasn't his primary responsibility. There is no concern from a cerebral point of him adjusting to taht particular position. I know he's going to be able to handle it because he prepares like a professional and he has the ability to see things before they happen from a defensive structure. His entire approach to the game is phenomenal. Will there be some adjustment with a 340-pound nose three inches from his face? Yeah, that's where he's going to have to make some of those adjustments. I have the utmost confidence that he is going to adjust and thrive in that position.

Q: Where would you say he took the biggest leap of growth last year? Going into last year compared to coming out of last year.

A: Some of the physicality he had in perimeter blocking took some significant gains. When you look at him in pass protection, what we had changed in pass protection just from a technical standpoint, you can see him against some pretty high draft picks, he not only held his own but was very consistent in a lot of those things. I really think his perimeter blocking and playing in space really took a significant stride this last year and it showed on film.

Q: What would you say he probably still needs to work on as he makes the jump to the NF? And I'll add on keeping in mind that he might need to move to center.

A: Clearly and obviously, moving to center he's going to have to continue to work his snaps. That's something that I know he has been preparing for. He has been really working on it leading up to the draft. I know per his conversations with the coaching staff, it became a hell of a lot more real this go-around. That's going to be the biggest thing that he will need to continue to work on is that component. He'd be the first to admit that there are some technical aspects in his base and his pass pro that he needs to continue to improve upon. Those are things that he will absolutely, absolutely continue to thrive in and continue to grow in. That's what's exciting, because you really can't pinpoint just one thing, but just continuing to detail every bit of his work.

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