Amari Cooper now knows where he will be playing, and it’s bound to be interesting.
The San Jose Mercury News is reporting that Cooper, the standout wide receiver from the University of Alabama, was taken with the fourth pick in this year’s NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders. Though the Raiders had numerous needs, and standout defensive lineman Leonard Williams was still available, Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie opted to bolster his burgeoning offense with what many pundits feel is the most polished receiver in this year’s draft.
Cooper, who caught 124 passes last year for the Crimson Tide for 1,727 yards and 16 touchdowns, led the nation last year. Cooper will be paired with free agent acquisition Michael Crabtree. This gives Raiders quarterback Derek Carr tow fast, viable options, which will help open up the Raiders offense this year.
McKenzie liked the fact that the Raiders were able to fill a need with the best athlete available. “It’s very nice when it goes hand in hand,” McKenzie said. “You get a great player and he fits one of the needs. It was great when that fell into place.”
Cooper brings with him a serious demeanor, a superior work ethic, and very little baggage. “I’m just going to work as hard as I can and whatever results yield from that, I’ll be fine with it,” Cooper said.
According to ESPN, Cooper amassed 228 catches for 3,463 yards and 31 touchdowns in the three years he played at Alabama. His ability to run precise routes, along with his size (6 foot 1 inch, 211 pounds), means Cooper will complicate defensive coordinators’ game plans immeasurably. Cooper’s polished demeanor won over the Raiders’ coaching staff, making him an obvious choice for them.
“For a guy who hasn’t played in the NFL, it’s unusual when words like ‘polished’ are thrown out but that’s what you see,” incoming Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said.
Cooper is just the third wide receiver drafted by the Raiders within the first 10 rounds, following Tim Brown in 1988 at number 6 and Darius Heyward-Bey at number 7 in 2009. Brown was the last drafted wide receiver by the Raiders to gain over 1,000 receiving yards in a season. Randy Moss was the last Raiders receiver to amass over 1,000 yards, back in 2005.
“[Cooper] was on our board high from the start. It didn’t matter about the position; it was about the player,” said Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie, who did not have a pre-draft visit with Cooper but did meet with Cooper at the NFL combine in February. “We thought we had a chance to get a really good player and we were excited he was there.”
[Image courtesy of the NFL]