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Raiders 2015 Draft dilemma: Leonard Williams or Amari Cooper?

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Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

One of the more interesting storylines in the 2015 NFL Draft is whether USC defensive tackle Leonard Williams will fall to the Raiders at four overall. Williams is widely regarded as the top prospect in the draft and projects to be a 4-3 defensive tackle or 3-4 defensive end in the NFL. If Williams is available for the Raiders, should they draft him, or would they be better off selecting Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper?

Let's take a look at both options.

Leonard Williams, DT, USC

Why he should be the pick

Leonard Williams is touted by many respected draft analysts as the best prospect in the 2015 NFL Draft. At 6'5" and 302 lbs, Williams has the size and versatility to play both 4-3 defensive tackle and 3-4 defensive end in the NFL. He had impressive production at USC totaling 138 tackles, 27 tackles for loss, 14 sacks, 4 deflections, and 3 fumble recoveries in 22 career starts for the Trojans.

Williams is a supremely gifted athlete elite length, explosion, and power. One play I will never forget was against Stanford last season when he chased down Ty Montgomery.Williams is great against the run, yet can also rush the quarterback effectively.

The NFC Director of Scouting compared Leonard Williams to six-time Pro Bowler Kevin Williams. "You can't over-think this one. It doesn't matter how raw he (Williams) is because he's got freakish qualities that are rare for men his size. I think he has a chance to be as good as Kevin Williams. That's his comparison."

The combination of Leonard Williams and Khalil Mack would create havoc for offenses. Williams would instantly be the best defensive lineman the Raiders have had since Richard Seymour and would help create opportunities for Mack to get to the quarterback. In five years if the Raiders win a super bowl, it would be very easy to trace their success back to Khalil Mack and Leonard Williams as the cornerstones of their defense.

It is worth noting that Williams grew up a Raiders fan and has been outspoken about his desire to play for the Silver and Black.

Why he should not be the pick

After drafting Justin Ellis in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft and signing Dan Williams in free agency, the Raiders have two young and talented defensive tackles. Ellis was the number two rated rookie defensive tackle last season (behind Defensive Rookie of the Year Aaron Donald) according to Pro Football Focus.

The Raiders still have needs to address (wide receiver, defensive end, right guard) and while Leonard Williams would be an upgrade over Ellis, the Raiders have a solid group of defensive tackles without him.


Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama

Why he should be the pick

After two impressive seasons as a freshman and sophomore starter, Cooper dominated in 2014 and was named the winner of the Biletnikoff Award given to the best wide receiver in college football. He was also a Heisman finalist after totaling 124 receptions for 1,727 yards (13.9 avg) and 16 touchdowns.

Cooper is the most pro-ready receiver in the 2015 NFL Draft as he has sticky hands, runs crisp routes, and is a legitimate threat after the catch with 4.4 speed. He is versatile as he lined up in both the slot and out wide while at Alabama. Cooper also played in two separate offensive systems in college and had success in both.

At 6'1" and 211 lbs, Cooper has prototypical size for an NFL wide receiver. He plays bigger than his height as he wins jump balls with his ball skills and by catching the ball at it's highest point.

Former NFL GM and current Reese's Senior Bowl Executive Director Phil Savage compared Cooper to eight-time Pro Bowler Marvin Harrison. "Amari is super athletic, very fluid and highly skilled as a route runner and hands catcher. Because of his reserved demeanor and similar ability, I compared him to Marvin Harrison during the season."

Even after signing Michael Crabtree in free agency, a number one wide receiver is still the Raiders biggest need as they have not had a wide receiver top 1,000 yards in a season since Randy Moss in 2005.

Cooper would give the Raiders a legitimate number one wide receiver for the first time in ten years. He has a great character and is said to have a strong work ethic. Cooper has the versatility to play wherever the Raiders need him, and his consistent hands and route running will make him a starter from day one.

Why he should not be the pick

Three words, best player available. While Amari Cooper is the number two overall prospect on my Big Board, Leonard Williams is the number one. The Raiders can't go wrong either way, but if they want to take the best player available, Williams is their man.

The other reason why the Raiders may go Williams over Cooper is because the 2015 NFL Draft has great depth at wide receiver, especially in the second and third rounds. Nelson Aghlor, Jaelen Strong, Dorial Green-Beckham, and Tyler Lockett are just a handful of talented receivers that may be available in the second round.

You decide Raider Nation

So if Leonard Williams falls to number four overall, should the Raiders take him or Amari Cooper?