The term ‘high ceiling' isn't one that people have used with regard to Amari Cooper this offseason. Some people think that's a negative. I am not one of those people. As I've said before, ‘high ceiling' is code speak for ‘isn't proven consistently'. That's something Amari Cooper has done.
What Cooper is is a safe pick. He has reached a level which is an enviable ceiling for most receivers. And he has plenty of tape to show for it. That's what attracted the Raiders to him.
"I would just say that when you talk about this young man coming in at this level, as a draft prospect that has not played in the NFL yet, it's unusual when words like ‘polished' are thrown out, but that's what you see," Jack Del Rio said of Cooper. "He has been lined up all across the board - outside, both sides, inside the slot, moving around, even lined up in the backfield some. So he's been exposed to a lot, been utilized a lot of different ways. He's run the entire route tree."
"It's rare when you find guys that come into the league and they have that kind of polish on them coming out. Typically, guys - they can't get off press [coverage] - they have something they haven't done. He has pretty much done all those things. He knows how to get off press. He knows how to attack defenses, find the soft spots and run the full complement of the route tree. So that sets him apart in terms of the rest of this class."
In speaking with Cooper himself, he explained that he has been playing wide receiver since he was five years old. He said he has never played another position in his football life. That kind of experience sets him apart from his peers.
"Just being diligent and conscientious as a receiver," said Cooper. "Just trying to be the best I can be. I think for the most part, it's come because I've played this position all my life. Usually when you get a wide receiver at the college level, they haven't played wide receiver their whole life."
In his experience, the most important part of being a wide receiver is running good routes.
"I'm a wide receiver," Cooper continued. "There are only two ways you can get open at wide receiver, your releases and the top of your route. The whole route-running process is really important. I just focused on it and try to be the best that I can at it so I can create as much separation I can for my quarterback."
This approach came to fruition last season when he had a conference record 124 catches for 1727 yards and 16 touchdowns. This after having a total of 104 catches over his first two seasons at Alabama.
"One thing about him - you'll see that when he's here - you'll notice, I think, that he's very serious about football. He's very much businesslike in his approach. [He is] a fairly quiet, soft-spoken young man; mature. Football is important to him. He knows what it looks like to work and to prepare the way you need to prepare to play well. Those things are all things that coaches, personnel people, we all appreciate those qualities."
‘Quiet and soft spoken' is extremely accurate. I would add ‘humble and unassuming'. You rarely see guys with his abilities at wide receiver have his demeanor.
His on-field abilities have been compared to Tim Brown. Brown was also the Raiders' last original drafted wide receiver to have 1000 yards for the team. And it makes sense why Brown was lobbying hard for the Raiders to draft Cooper. And it's only fitting that in the same year Tim Brown is finally to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
This 2014 Fred Biletnikoff Award Winner, Heisman Trophy finalist, SEC Offensive Player of the Year, and Unanimous All American, is polished and pro ready to give the Raiders a top target right now.
That has to make Derek Carr a very happy man right about now.