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Doug Orth | Archive | Email |
Staff Writer

NFL Draft Profile – WR Amari Cooper, Alabama

As we begin the countdown to the NFL Draft starting on April 30, I will spend anywhere from 4-8 hours to break down the strengths and weaknesses of at least the top 15 offensive skill-position prospects available in this draft.
Amari Cooper

Amari Cooper's football maturity is unique and could make him the first WR taken in the NFL Draft.

College: Alabama
Height/Weight: 6’1”/211
Hands: 10”

Important NFL Combine Numbers
40-Yard Dash: 4.42* (teams were informed after Combine that Cooper’s official time was between 4.35 and 4.38)
Vertical Jump: 33”
Broad Jump: 10’
20-Yard Shuttle: 3.98
3-Cone: 6.71

Background (College Stats)
Cooper has been on the draft radar (and seemingly eliciting comparison to former Crimson Tide standout Julio Jones) since he was the leading receiver as a freshman for Alabama’s national championship team in 2012. The Miami native, who caught passes from Teddy Bridgewater in high school, broke Jones’ freshman program records in catches (59) and receiving yards (1,000) while also surpassing a 62-year-old school record for a freshman with 11 receiving touchdowns. Much like Jones, Cooper saw his overall numbers dip as a sophomore in part due to injury. The “sophomore slump” proved to be little more than a bump in the road, however, as Cooper became only the second player in SEC history to eclipse the 100-catch plateau in a season – setting school records with 124 receptions, 1,727 yards and 16 scores – en route to winning the Biletnikoff Award and finishing third in the Heisman Trophy voting.

NFL Player Comp(s): Roddy White

Best Scheme Fit: Universal. Fundamentally sound and big enough to flourish in a West Coast-style offense and dynamic enough to thrive in a more vertical-based attack.


  • Consistently beats jam and is an easy route runner; fluid in and out of cuts.
  • Can stop on a dime and really sells the double move with an assortment of head and body motions; exceptional second gear to pull away from defender after final fake.
  • Tracks the deep ball effortlessly over his shoulder and wins the majority of 50-50 balls.
  • Shows good field awareness –always seems to give himself plenty of room to get both feet down inbounds – and has little trouble finding the weakness in zone coverage.
  • Plenty of experience working all over the formation and running every kind of route under (former NFL coach) OC Lane Kiffin in 2014; should excel outside or in the slot right away.


  • Makes the spectacular reception look easy, but committed a few too many focus drops on catchable balls throughout his college career.
  • Will occasionally stop or freelance on a route, leaving his quarterback out to dry.
  • Could do a better job of shielding off defender on high-point throws.
  • Lacks consistent motivation as a blocker; will lay defenders out with a cut-back block on one play and offer little more than a shoulder on the next play.

Bottom Line
Truth be told, I see a bit of Marvin Harrison in Cooper’s route-running, quickness comparable to Odell Beckham Jr. and a field presence similar to Cris Carter. Still, I come away from watching him wanting more in the “non-traditional” areas of being a receiver – such as being more physical and consistent as a blocker or showing the discipline to finish all of his routes. Nevertheless, Cooper is as sure of a bet to be a steady – if not great – NFL wideout for the next decade or so as any receiver in this draft because he is wise beyond his years in the art of playing his position. He already excels in the areas veteran players rely on as their physical gifts erode, yet is only 20 years old (21 in June). His “football maturity” is such that one has to wonder if he is already near his ceiling in terms of his potential. Ultimately, Cooper already excels in two critical areas for an NFL receiver – getting open and catching the football – and that will obviously serve him (and his fantasy owners) well for the foreseeable future. The debate between Cooper’s NFL readiness and Kevin White’s higher upside figures to continue well into the summer and beyond, but the fact of the matter is that both should see their fair share of Pro Bowls.

Doug Orth has written for FF Today since 2006 and appeared in USA Today’s Fantasy Football Preview magazine in 2010 and 2011. He is also the host of USA Today’s hour-long, pre-kickoff fantasy football internet chat every Sunday. Doug regularly appears as a fantasy football analyst on Sirius XM’s “Fantasy Drive” and for 106.7 The Fan (WJFK – Washington, D.C). He is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. E-mail Doug or follow him on Twitter.