One in a series previewing the 2018 NFL Draft on April 26-28 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington
About the only disagreement former Texas Tech wide receiver KeKe Coutee had with head coach Kliff Kingsbury, was whether or not Coutee’s generation understands the origins of hip-hop music.
“He was miked up and listening to Biggie Smalls and telling us we don’t know nothing about that kind of music,” Coutee said.
Whatever the case on the music side, there’s very little doubt that Coutee knows how to run routes as he and some 25-plus college football players are preparing this off-season at APEC in Fort Worth for the NFL Draft, which will be held April 26-28 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
Never miss a local story.
For Coutee, though, the significance of Tech’s evolution in offense parallels to a lifetime of hip-hop development, built around the foundation of what players such as Michael Crabtree, Wes Welker and Danny Amendola have done in the NFL.
“They’ve always called us system receivers, but honestly, you don’t hear that much any more,” he said. “It’s a stereotype, but the reality is we know how to run routes there and we have an extended route tree, so you feel like you have enough experience to be able to handle the NFL playbooks and the complexity of those.
“We’re constantly showing scouts that we’re not system guys.”
Coutee makes a strong case. He had explosive growth in three seasons in Lubbock, capping his junior year with 93 receptions with 1,429 yards and 10 touchdowns. As a sophomore, catching passes from Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Pat Mahomes, he had 55 receptions for 890 yards and seven scores.
But at 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, Coutee is closer to Amendola, Welker and the Dallas Cowboys' Cole Beasley than he is to a prototype wide reciever.
“Once you get to this level, you’re around guys that were the best at their schools,” Coutee said. “It’s every young guy’s dream to make it to the next level and we really haven’t gotten rolling yet.
“But the players at this level, they have the same skill set, same stats, they are constantly working and focusing on their games. Everybody is bigger, everybody’s faster and they’re feeding off you as well.”
Coutee said he’s comfortable with the variables and challenges that await.
“I’m working on my 40 time to try and blow that away and get my route running a little cleaner,” he said. “One of the biggest differences is that 1-2 yards is open in college, but maybe it’s just 2-3 inches to be considered open the NFL and you have to make those plays.”