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- Position: Wide Receiver (WR)
- Class: Junior
- College: Alabama
- Ht/Wt: 6'1", 200 pounds
In 2014, there was no better receiver in college football than Amari Cooper. The junior was Alabama's go-to guy, and he has a skill set that will make him a quarterback's best friend early on. Cooper is excellent at getting open against either man or zone coverages, with great field vision and technique. He deflects the jam well, and runs his routes effectively, with good subtle movements to freeze defenders. Cooper isn't an elite athlete, but he's a very good one; he might not find himself as wide open in the NFL as he often was with the Crimson Tide.
Cooper does a good job looking the ball into his hands and catching the ball without breaking stride, but sometimes is content to let the ball into his chest. His catch radius isn't outstanding, and he doesn't appear to be a guy you can throw sideline jump balls to. He does have the physicality and hand strength to make some good contested catches, in spite of his average size.
As a blocker, Cooper has some work to do. He doesn't take good angles, and usually doesn't follow through on his blocks. He isn't a max effort player on blocks or turnovers, and is instead content to jog on those plays if he doesn't think he's in the fray. I've seen that attitude come up with a few Alabama players, including Ha Ha Clinton-Dix last year, and it didn't seem to be a problem with the transition to the NFL. But it's worth noting.
Cooper showed how ready for the NFL he was with his 2014 performance, and although he doesn't have the outstanding combination of size and athleticism that DeVante Parker was gifted with, I think his route-running savvy will make Cooper the better bet, especially earlier in his career. If I were ranking Cooper in comparison to last year's historic receiving class, he would have been fourth on my board, behind Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, and Odell Beckham Jr. In a less star-studded set of prospects, with a nonetheless deep group of wideouts, Cooper is the top receiving prospect, and a potential Top 10 pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.