If there's any position with an absolutely glaring hole on the Oakland roster, it's probably wide receiver. Yes, the Raiders signed Michael Crabtree and still have James Jones, Rod Streater and Andre Holmes (among others), but the need for a No. 1 receiver remains evident.
The good news for Oakland is that of all the positions in this draft, wide receiver might be the deepest.
Near the top of those rankings no matter who you ask is Alabama's Amari Cooper — a 6'1" 211 pound receiver who was named the nation's best receiver last season as a junior after catching 124 passes for 1,727 yards and 16 touchdowns.
So, what do our writers think — is Cooper the guy for Oakland at No. 4?
I'm going to treat this decision as one between Cooper and West Virginia's Kevin White, simply because I don't see a way in which both aren't there for the picking at No. 4.
To me, however, Cooper is the choice.
What bothers me about Cooper is that in light of White's 4.35 40-yard dash, Cooper has been labeled as "not blazing fast" by most folks — despite running a 4.42!
Also, consider this: Cooper is the exact same height and weight as Sammy Watkins, but he ran slightly faster in the 40, jumped just one inch less in the vert jump, and posted a much better 3-cone drill 20-yard shuttle time. On paper, they're basically the same player — and yet Watkins is viewed as an athletic freak and Cooper has become a "possession receiver".
What I love most about Cooper, however, is the safety he provides at this pick. White probably has slightly more upside (but not much in my opinion), but Cooper has proven year-in and year-out that he's an elite pass-catcher. No down years, no weeks of disappearing — nothing, just plain consistency. And for a team that can't afford to swing and miss on this pick (or this draft), I think that counts for something.
Marcus Allen Krause
Amari Cooper is a guy that would be really fun to see wearing the Silver and Black. He is a precise route runner with good hands that would be the No. 1 receiver they still need. I would still draft Leonard Williams instead, but if Williams is gone then I would definitely choose Amari Cooper.
I definitely think Leonard Williams is ahead of Cooper simply because this draft is loaded with receivers, and the Raiders have a much better shot at a talented wide receiver in the 2nd round over a defensive player of Williams quality at that spot. Still, you can't assume Reggie McKenzie won't go the opposite route in getting Derek Carr a new top receiver.
Amari Cooper might not be the fastest receiver but he is the most well rounded and has the highest floor of the 2015 class of receivers. He comes in from an NFL style offense with NFL ready skills and would be a great addition to the Raiders. He is definitely worth the pick at number 4 if Leonard Williams is gone and there is no King's Ransom ready to be paid in a trade.
I remember the first time I saw Amari Cooper. It was his freshman year at Alabama and I saw him return a kick the length of the field for a score. Then I saw him embarrass some poor defensive back catching a pass from, uhh, Greg McElroy or AJ McCarron or whatever no-name guy was chucking up passes for the Tide.
Cooper has been a superstar from Day One and has been the finest SEC wide receiver I can remember — including Julio Jones and Alshon Jeffery. Jeffery is bigger than Cooper and Jones is faster, but they are not BETTER. Cooper is better than either of them. After my first taste of Cooper, I remember thinking "I hope the Raiders get that guy. He's the real deal."
Blake Sims was Alabama's QB this year. Blake Sims aka "the black Tim Tebow," who probably ought to be flying a cargo plane full of rubber dog shit out of Hong Kong. Amari Cooper took him and made him look great. Bailing him out of crappy game after crappy game.
Alabama is and always has been a smash mouth, play-action team. They will run and run and run and then pass and boom you are asleep and their wideout is twenty yards behind your coverage because you are putting up to twelve men in the box to stop whatever freakish running back they are shoving down your throat this week.
Cooper was a master at this — he is such a good route runner that he was usually five yards from the nearest coverage. This is why people believe he can't go over the middle or contest jump balls. I assure you he can — he just usually didn't have to because he is so good at getting separation.
He isn't the biggest guy, or the fastest guy (although at 4.4 he is certainly not slow). What he is, is a guy who knows exactly how to play wide receiver. He uses his hands, he runs his routes, he has exceptional body control. He reminds me a lot of Tim Brown, but he also reminds me a lot of Fred Biletnikoff. That sort of heady play and mastery of the receiver position is exactly what the Raiders need to help Derek Carr reach his potential.
I read some statistic today where Derek Carr was really bad at the deep pass. I suspect it has less to do with him being inaccurate and more to do with his crappy receivers being utterly unable to beat coverage. Ask any SEC defensive back how good Cooper is at beating deep coverage. Ask Florida CB Vernon Hargreaves about that. Cooper abused Hargreaves all over the field last season, and Hargreaves will be a top-ten pick in the next draft. Cooper won that battle every time.
If Derek Carr throws a deep pass to Cooper, I say Cooper makes the play four out of five times. Andre Holmes and Brice Butler could only dream of such efficiency. If Leonard Williams is gone, Cooper should be the pick without a question. He will be the next great NFL wide receiver.
There are two players the Raiders should pick if they stay at No. 4 overall, and Cooper is one of them. Cooper is the best receiver in the draft and is arguably the most pro ready player regardless of position.
He would give the Raiders a No. 1 receiver for the first time in 10 years, and he is versatile enough to succeed in any system the Raiders choose to have him in.
Amari Cooper is the best and most accomplished wide receiver in this draft class. He is an instant number one guy on any team who drafts him which is just what the Raiders need and what Derek Carr needs to help with his development.
Cooper is one of those guys where scouts are left searching for negatives like detectives and therefore he ends up having perceived faults simply because they were unable to find anything truly negative. They say he's short. He's 6-1, which is one inch below what is considered a standard NFL wide receiver height. They say he's not fast. They also say Kevin White is blazing fast even though when the video of Cooper and White is played on top of each other, they looked nearly identical, with Cooper even having a slight edge.
Cooper could possibly be the best option for the Raiders, period. That means given the choice of any player in this draft, it would be difficult to choose anyone over him for the Raiders. And the fact that the Raiders have used a first round draft choice on a wide receiver only twice in the past 30 years (Darrius Heyward-Bey in 09, Tim Brown in 88), haven't had an original drafted receiver surpass 1000 yards (Tim Brown) in 14 years, and haven't had a single 1000-yard receiver in a decade (Randy Moss) says it's time. Well past time.