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Amari Cooper numbers suggest Raiders should line him up in the slot more often, especially against Patriots

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NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Oakland Raiders Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Several times this offseason, we floated the idea of Amari Cooper lining up more in the slot. Not exclusively, mind you, but at least a good percentage of the time.

The reasoning behind that thinking was two-fold. First and foremost Cooper is quick, fast, and is a superb route runner — all ideal qualities for a slot receiver. This offseason the team added Cordarrelle Patterson, who embodies only one of those three qualities — he’s fast. If the team wanted to get Patterson on the field more, he is fairly limited to the outside, while Coop is versatile.

Even without factoring Patterson into the equation, Coop’s numbers in the slot suggest more time there would be beneficial, according to Pro Football Focus.

In Coop’s first two seasons he saw an average of just under 100 snaps in the slot or around 16%. And yet he averaged about 275 yards and 3 TD’s from there which was about 25% of his overall yardage and more than half his total touchdowns (11).

This season, the Raiders have moved him around quite a bit more than they did his first two seasons. He has already seen 70 snaps in the slot which is 20% of his snaps and the results have shown that the increase has been a good idea. He has 17 catches for 202 yards and a TD from that slot this season which is 44% of his catches and yards.

Coop’s prowess in the slot was stumbled upon this week by PFF’s Austin Gayle who latched on and ran with it in a series of tweets. First comparing Coop’ numbers to that of Raiders’ usual slot receiver, Seth Roberts. Note how similar they are in receptions, yards, and touchdowns despite the vast difference in routes run from the slot.

So, what about against the Patriots this Sunday? Well, it seems the Patriots defense has a bit of a problem with covering the slot.

The Raiders have had a couple weeks to devise a plan to attack the Patriots. If they are able to successfully deploy Coop from the slot, we’ll know they have awoken to the same conclusions.