CFF Player Profile: Amari Cooper, WR

Sam Monson profiles Amari Cooper, the No. 1 wide-out option in the draft.

| 2 years ago
CFF-profile-cooper

CFF Player Profile: Amari Cooper, WR


The wide receiver class of 2014 was unusually strong and productive, but the class of 2015 might be just as good, if not even better, and the best prospect of the entire group is Alabama’s Amari Cooper.

Cooper was the focal point of the Alabama offense, receiving a staggering amount of targets on an offense that has traditionally run the ball far more than many in college, and yet he still dominated even on a per-snap basis. He is by far the most pro-ready and polished receiver in the group and while some have Kevin White in the same echelon or even ahead of Cooper, to us at CFF/PFF there really is only one player that heads this class.

CFF-profile-cooperWR1

Overview and Stats

It’s not too often you find a guy who is at the top of the per-snap metrics and the overall cumulative stats, but that’s how good Cooper was in last season. He led the FBS with 178 targets in 2014. He also led with 124 receptions. He led all draft eligible players with 1,727 yards, 16 touchdowns and 26 missed tackles by defenders forced. As impressive as all that is, those are cumulative numbers that can be skewed by a relentless targeting of a receiver. He also led all draft eligible players in yards per route run with 3.97, well clear of the next best player.

To put that into some perspective, here’s how it compares to the best players in the NFL in that category in 2014:

cff profile cooper table

Obviously NFL receivers are working against a higher caliber of defensive back, but you can see how impressive those numbers from Cooper are. Even a player like Odell Beckham Jr, who missed time to start the season and then put up incredible numbers in his shortened playing time, can’t come close to the level of production Cooper had on a per-snap basis in the passing game.

Cooper led all draft eligible players in this regard while Kevin White, suggested by some as a better player overall, was 10th.

About the only area where Cooper wasn’t statistically elite was when it came to drops. Cooper dropped eight passes in 2014, which sounds like quite a lot, but bearing in mind his monstrous workload was actually a relatively good drop rate. He dropped 6.1% of all the catchable passes sent his way which was pretty good, but some way short of the best figures even just amongst this draft class, let alone the whole of the FBS.

The tape shows that Cooper certainly has good hands, and it’s far from a concern, but he’s unlikely to have the kind of perfect drop-seasons that the very best hands in the NFL have had. The fact that we need to get into “his hands are just very good, not awesome” should tell its own story about how complete a prospect Cooper is.

The Tape

So we know Cooper is productive, that much is almost self evident, but what are you getting if you take him in the draft, and why do we view him as a step above any other receiver in this draft?

You expect to be wowed by athleticism and physical traits when you turn on the tape of college receivers. If you watch Kevin White, or Dorial Green-Beckham, or Breshad Perriman those are the things that jump out. You’re watching superior athletes beating up on defensive backs that just can’t match their measurables. When you watch Cooper though that isn’t what stands out. That’s not to say he doesn’t have those measurables, but the things that stand out about his game are different.

CFF-profiles-inset-cooperWRHe looks like a polished, veteran NFL receiver already. He can use his hands at the line to defeat the jam and contact from defensive backs like it’s already instinct. This is something most college receivers struggle with and it takes them a while to learn it in the NFL. Cooper is already a master. Teams practically gave up trying to jam him at all because he would just swat the corner’s arms away and then destroy him for quickness off the line while he was still reeling from the hand-duel.

He understands how to vary the tempo and pace of his routes and set up defensive backs to break open as and when he wants to. He also shows a fantastic understanding of defenses and zone coverage, knowing exactly what he’s looking at and when to throttle down to sit in an open space.

The word that keeps coming to mind when you watch Cooper play is ‘smart’. He just has a complete understanding of the position in a way most college wide outs don’t have. Cooper should be able to hit the ground running in the NFL and do it without relying on his athleticism. The fact that he also has seriously impressive physical tools just makes him an even more tantalizing prospect and a player that should be taken within the first five picks in the draft.

This wide receiver class is going to provide value all the way down the draft, and as many as eight players could be taken in the first round, but Cooper is far and away the best of the bunch, and shouldn’t drop any lower than No. 6.

The other talented receivers at the position and the depth at wide out in this draft class should mean that teams shouldn’t get too disheartened if they don’t have a chance at drafting Cooper, but it would be a mistake to sleep on just how good Cooper is because there are other good players available. Kevin White and DeVante Parker among others will make teams very happy, but there is a significant difference in quality between those two and Cooper in our eyes, based both on the tape and the CFF grading that tape produced.

Hear more from Sam about Cooper here:

 

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| Senior Analyst

Sam is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus, as well as a contributor to ESPN.

  • Jim Winslow

    1242 receptions is quite good, but he is only averaging a 1.39 yac. In the end I see a receiver who will only be used in third and 1 and fourth and 1 scenarios.

    • jim

      dumb

      • Jim Winslow

        lol the guy edited the article after I commented, some of you guys are little late to the party. He accidently put 1242 receptions.

        • jim

          i saw what he accidently put the wrong number down. my comment to you is that it is dumb and juvenile of you to pick his mistake out as the only thing you comment on. grow up.

          • bobrulz

            Or maybe you should just get a sense of humor?

          • jim

            or maybe you should mind your own damn business jerk. go to hell.

          • Jim Winslow

            Jeaz Jim calm down

          • bobrulz

            If you want people to mind their own business then don’t post things on a public forum.

          • jim

            you come here to pick your little juvenile fight and then whine like a little girl. grow up bobbi.

          • You can shove it buddy

            Jim you’re starting to sound like a little bitch in every sports comments section.

          • jim

            i don’t care what you think about anything pal. GOT IT?

          • You can shove it buddy

            Well of course you do, Jimmy the Homo.

          • jim

            the kind of comment one hears on a grade school playground. grow up little girl. bye.

          • Graniterlm

            I’m glad that after all these years you have finally growed up Jim….lol….how u say ah….douche

          • jim

            “growed up”? illiterates like you make me laugh. lololol. the dumbing down of america continues with the likes of you pal.

    • Mike J.

      I think you have the decimal point in the wrong place.

    • Anon

      That graphic is wrong. He had 124 receptions….So that’s 13.93 yds/catch

  • Graniterlm

    Cooper is very polished….what you see is what you get. Kevin White will be better because he is just learning the position. I think he only has a couple years experience but is learning and gaining confidence pretty quickly.

    • ted

      Just cant see White being better then cooper. White at the beginning of the season will be 23 and Cooper will be 21. That’s a big deal for me when drafting a first round wide receiver. Its all about development. How can i develop White when after his rookie deal he’ll be 27 or 28 and closer to 30 when Cooper will be 25 or 26 and could be a play maker for another 5+ years