I have never been a scout or a NFL General Manager, but I am willing to watch a ton of football. By watching about 200 snaps of each prospect, we can really get a feel for a player and then know what we are talking about a bit better. It is no exact science, but the NFL hasn't quite figured out drafting either, so we are going to do the best we can.
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Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama - 6'1, 211 - Junior - 4.42 40
As the trend for teams taking running backs in the draft has done nothing but go down over the years, the trends for wide receivers has done quite the opposite. It used to be rather rare for many receivers to go so quickly in the draft, but in 2014, we had 10 gone by pick #56. That means, of course, if you wait until the middle of round 2 to get your guy, you are choosing from the 9th or 10th best WR on the board.
The good news about that, though, is that because of the way football has evolved, it sure seems like the 10th and 12th best receivers each year are still NFL caliber and often quite impressive. Routinely, about a dozen WRs are now going in the Top 100, and 2015 will certainly get to that number with relative ease. On almost every list, Amari Cooper is thought of as the best of the bunch. To see if I agreed, I grabbed a number of games, but locked down on Florida, Tennessee, Auburn, and West Virginia.
Cooper wears #9.
What I liked: This shouldn't take too long. He is fantastic in almost every regard. He has tremendous hands and long speed that puts him in a class of receivers that can run the entire route tree from just about any spot. He is great as an outside threat with comebacks and crosses and go-routes, but from the slot, he is a real strong, underneath threat as well. Once he hits the jets, he is off to the races with no hope of tracking him down from the opposition. He is a dominant receiver who wins in the air and can be flat out dominant down in the red zone. I have no problem saying this is a guy that really resembles Dez Bryant in many ways. Just a beast who can beat you in a number of ways. He is nearly impossible to jam and has feet that seem to knock a corner off balance if they dare play press-man against him.
What I did not like: Like everyone, I have to wonder why the drops occur when they do. He has great hands and technique most of the time, but perhaps from sheer volume or a lack of concentration he sometimes loses sight of the ball. Also, he doesn't always appear convicted about blocking, but as you can see directly below, when he gets interested, he can really dominate a defensive back on a block inside. Beyond that, I have nothing but compliments.
Summary: When you take a Wide Receiver in the top 5, he better have superstar possibilities and have a floor that is really high (we assume his ceiling is already high). Cooper is a guy who has been so productive already with 3,500 yards in 3 years at Alabama and now is ready to take his awesome production to the next level. He played at the highest level of college football and it generally looked like he was too good for that level and capable of being the first WR to win the Heisman Trophy in years. That said, he fell just short, but it would take quite an upset for Cooper not to be the first WR off the board. He is just too versatile and excellent in so many regards. He can beat you underneath or over the top, against man or against zone, against off coverage or against tight, and is not averse to contact - in fact, he occasionally will be called for being too physical himself. He is really an impressive player - A dominant prospect and a #1 receiver for years to come it would appear.
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