FRISCO, Texas — Going undrafted was a bit of a surprise for some when wide receiver Jalen Cropper was not selected in April's NFL Draft, but that hasn't stopped the Fresno State product from taking an advantage of an opportunity in training camp.
After being one of the more productive pass-catchers in all of college football with 80-plus receptions in each of his last two seasons, Cropper carried his high-level production into the first week of training camp where he began to shine as soon as the team touched down in Oxnard.
While the preseason opportunities haven't been as fruitful, Cropper has continued to earn praise from those around the offense, including from third-string quarterback Will Grier on Wednesday who said he's done "a great job making plays" specifically in the last week-and-a-half.
"It's been good," Cropper said about his first training camp. "Just coming out here to prove myself worthy of being on the field with so many great players. I feel like this is my opportunity to come out here and showcase my talent and skill set, my speed and my ability to play football at a high level. I've been able to show that, it's been a good month of camp."
While there is a small chip on his shoulder after going undrafted, his fire as a rookie is more so fueled by a desire to be consistent to show the team that they made a good decision in bringing him in.
"There's always things when you have high standards for yourself and the standards were a little bit lower than what you expected," he said. "It's naturally a chip, but I don't walk around every day at practice like I'm undrafted and I gotta prove a little bit more. I think [I'm] just coming out here and being consistent and showing what I'm able to do."
Being consistent has been something he has seen from the leaders in the wide receiver room, as Cropper has picked up a wealth of wisdom early on from CeeDee Lamb and Brandin Cooks with how they perform on and off the field.
"The chemistry that they have, the love they have for each other, and then how they carry themselves off the field," he said about what stands out. "It's not always just football, but when it is football, you see how they carry themselves and take care of their bodies. In the film room or whatever they're doing, they take a lot of pride in what they do."
Moving forward, an opportunity to see the field even more in the preseason finale on Saturday could be prevalent with a couple of more pass-catchers expected to rest. For Cropper, it's an opportunity to display a few things that he hasn't been able to during the preseason to this point.
"Definitely some return abilities, and then obviously some things in the offense," he said. "Catching the ball, being able to make people miss, hopefully score a touchdown."