Scouting Report: Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
Amari Cooper is a first round pick in any draft class. He’d have been a top four receiver in last year’s monster class and he’ll probably be gone somewhere in the top 10 picks overall this year. He’s that good. The former Alabama star possesses a nice combination of traits that you might find if you combined Reggie Wayne with Torry Holt. Old schoolers like myself might see a little Art Monk or perhaps some Stanley Morgan. Amari is smooth, sure-handed, and he’s game-ready. Some folks may favor the combine-busting Kevin White, and that’s perfectly reasonable. I’m on the fence myself. It’s that close and the two players are that different. Cooper is the sure thing. He’s the route guy who can pretty much do it all from a traditional standpoint. He’s the guy who runs the route that leads to the crucial third down conversion because he separates himself from the defender so well and so consistently.
When asked at the combine about his college OC Lane Kiffin, Cooper described his diversity—doing some of my work for me. “He's a very technical coach. He observes what the defensive team is doing in the best way he can. Me specifically, he moves me around a lot so a team can't really prepare for me. He'll line me up at the H, Z or X. He’ll even put me in the backfield to create some mismatches.” If you watch Cooper’s film, you’ll see all these things. He’s a diverse receiver and that adds value in many ways. For example, a player like Cooper allows you to place other receivers where they function best. He’s low maintenance. Odell Beckham did this for the Giants last year—dominating from multiple locations.
- Height - 6’1”
- Weight - 211
- Hands - 10"
- 40 - 4.42
- 3-Cone - 6.71
- Short Shuttle - 3.98
- Vertical Jump - 33”
- Broad Jump - 10 feet
It’s mostly good news though the explosion numbers (broad and vertical) are a little weak, which jibes with his film to some degree. This is where certain teams may see Kevin White as a better fit for their needs. The positives, for Cooper, are his size, speed and agility, which is also evident on film. Having ten inch paws is also a plus.
- Speed - It’s there on film. Just watch him defeat angles against good athletes. Cooper’s speed isn’t just real, it’s a little deceptive, and that’s an added plus. In addition to having speed, Cooper knows how to use it. He varies his pace well—often exploding once the ball is in the air. Speed and burst.
- Agility - His film tells the story here, and his 3-Cone time confirms things. Cooper’s ability to make sudden cuts may be his biggest physical advantage over defenders.
- Hands - Cooper’s hands are solid and potentially very good. He does like to use his body more than some receivers, but he uses his hands naturally and diversely. He’s good over the shoulder, above his frame and below the waist. He’s got some drops on film, but he also seems to have a short memory—not allowing a drop to affect the next play.
- Awareness - Cooper is not a physical freak like some other receivers. He’s not a sky-walker nor does he have great strength. This was apparent as I watched all of his tape. The thing to remember is that Cooper has a tendency to make it look easy. He does this by shaking defenders cleanly on his first move or by finding the hole in the zone. The guy gets open against all forms of defense. He also gets his head turned early and tracks the ball well. He has great judgment—and a good feel for when to leave his feet and when to stay down. He works back to his quarterback well. It takes some receivers 3-4 NFL seasons before they show the football savvy that this 20-year old kid has right now.
- Routes - There’s not much negative to say here. Cooper is diverse and shows the ability or at least the potential to run the entire route tree well. He has quick feet, smooth hips and he gets out of breaks very well. His diversity at the top of the stem puts tremendous pressure of defenders. That’s why his double move is so lethal. He also handles the jam pretty well though he rarely faced press coverage at Alabama.
- After the catch - Cooper is good with the ball in his hands. As noted, he has the speed. He can also make you miss in the open field and he’ll use a good stiff arm to get a few crucial yards when necessary.
- Efficiency - If you read Rotobahn regularly, you know we like backs who don’t over-cut, and who get north-south as much as possible. We love agility and sudden cuts as much as anybody, but the idea is to gain the maximum amount of available yards. Cooper is a good example of a receiver with a waste-free approach who leaves few yards on the field.
- Blocking - It may not matter a whole lot for fantasy purposes, but Cooper is a pretty good blocker and gives consistent effort. It speaks to his level of commitment and it makes him a complete player in the eyes of NFL evaluators.
- Production - Check out his stats. Cooper was highly productive and he capped things off with a monster senior year.
Perceptively, Cooper sort of exists in the in-between. He’s fast but not that fast. He’s big, but not that big. His agility is outstanding, but not flashy. His agility numbers actually compare favorably to Brandin Cooks, but Cooper doesn’t give you the “wow” plays with regularity as Cooks does. Don’t let that fool you. Cooper is sudden and lethal both before and after the catch, but since he often beats his man with technique, he can lack the visceral appeal of a guy like Cooks. A lot of the time, on highlight reels, you see Cooper wide open but you don’t see him break free because the camera follows the ball. In a sense, Cooper gets penalized for separating so well..
For fantasy purposes, this is a guy you want. There’s not a running back in this year’s deep class that I would draft ahead of him right now. I may move certain backs up after the draft if they get a plum gig, but right now, Cooper’s more appealing long term than anybody else in this draft save for Kevin White. For redraft purposes, I expect Cooper to have value right away. The team he goes to is obviously important. We’ll get deeper into this after the draft as always.
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