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Redskins Draft Countdown: Alabama WR Amari Cooper

Apr 20, 2015, 10:23 AM EDT

The NFL Draft is just over a week away and I’ll continue researching the prospects throughout the lead-up to the draft. Along the way I’ll be sharing some of what I find out with Real Redskins readers. The focus will be on players in areas of need for the Redskins but I might look at players at just about any position since Scot McCloughan has said that he will take the best player available regardless of need.

Amari Cooper
Wide receiver
Alabama

source:

What they’re saying:

What I liked: This shouldn’t take too long.  He is fantastic in almost every regard.  He has tremendous hands and long speed that puts him in a class of receivers that can run the entire route tree from just about any spot.  He is great as an outside threat with comebacks and crosses and go-routes, but from the slot, he is a real strong, underneath threat as well.

What I did not like: Like everyone, I have to wonder why the drops occur when they do. He has great hands and technique most of the time, but perhaps from sheer volume or a lack of concentration he sometimes loses sight of the ball.  Also, he doesn’t always appear convicted about blocking.

Bob Sturm, Dallasnews.com

How he fits the Redskins: The Redskins would be fine without adding a wide receiver this year but the draft is about the future and they will be in need of a top wide receiver very soon. DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon will carry cap hits totaling nearly $20 million next year and both will turn 30. Andre Roberts is younger but his cap number jumps up to $5 million next year, a number that makes him of questionable value given his mediocre production.

Amari Cooper would be an instant help to Robert Griffin III or whoever is playing quarterback for the Redskins. The fact that he’s a sharp route runner already—that’s a skill that a rookie receiver doesn’t always have—will let Griffin operate knowing that Cooper is where he is supposed to be. As Griffin works on his game he would have a friend in Cooper. With Cooper, Jackson, and Garçon in the lineup, if Griffin doesn’t make it, it won’t be because he had no weapons to work with.

Cooper is used to playing with a QB who is a work in progress. He caught 109 passes last year with Blake Sims as his quarterback.

Potential issues: I think we should dispose of the knock that Cooper has too many drops. Yes, he dropped eight passes in 2014 according to the guys at CollegeFootballFocus.com. You read some analysts who have watched him and you’d think he is a modern-day version of Rod Gardner, a former first-round pick of the Redskins who was nicknamed 50-50 because it seemed that those were the odds that he would hang on to a pass that hit him in the hands. But CGG also counted 174 targets for him, a huge number, making his drop rate 6.1 percent. That’s higher than you want ideally but it’s not awful by any means.

As Sturm noted, Cooper does not seem to be very enthusiastic about blocking at times. However, when he is at the point of attack he does an adequate job. There should be time to coach him up on this since so many other parts of his game seem to be NFL ready.

Bottom line: Let’s say that the two quarterbacks go 1-2 in the draft and Dante Fowler Jr. and Leonard Williams are taken next. That would mean the top two defensive players are gone and Cooper and West Virginia receiver Kevin White are still on the board. Does McCloughan go with the polished Cooper, perhaps the most NFL-ready prospect in the draft? Or does he turn in a card for White, who is not nearly as polished but a couple of inches taller, a step faster and the more physical of the two.

To put it in simplistic terms, White appears to have a very high ceiling but also a low floor. There is little chance that Cooper will bust but he may never be an All-Pro, dominant receiver. Does McCloughan take a chance on greatness? Or will he take the player who appears to be more of a sure thing (with the caveat that there really are no sure things in the NFL draft)?

In his own words:

Cooper on what he thinks he can do better:

I think I can be more consistent in everything that I do. There were definitely times when I didn’t look the ball all the way through when I should’ve, which could’ve propelled me from maybe 200 yards to probably whatever that catch may have been. There were definitely times when I could’ve high-pointed the ball, and again could’ve made my numbers look better.

Previously in Draft Countdown:

  1. renhoekk2 - Apr 20, 2015 at 12:49 PM

    The only way I would not draft this guy if he is there is if I got a trade deal that was too good to pass up. Granted it was a 2nd rd selection but the Packers traded up in the 2nd rd and drafted Jordy Nelson in 2008 when they had no apparent need for a WR. They had Donald Driver and Greg Jennings as starters, Donald Lee a pass catching TE and drafted James Jones the year before. Nelson has been a number one WR for the Packers and one of the best WR in the league for years. If the Packers went by current team needs they would not have taken Jordy Nelson in 2008 and consequently probably don’t get to and win the superbowl in 2011.

  2. cmehustle - Apr 20, 2015 at 12:59 PM

    Count me in! It looks like we’re going to either have White or Cooper, or if one of the defenders Fowler or Williams will slip down to us. Im happy with either one of those four at pick five. If we trade out, I’m hoping the trade is severely in our favor, because now we’re getting much less of a guarantee. I believe one of those four is the pick, Im not as big on any of the other OLBs…

  3. Caveman Cooking - Apr 20, 2015 at 2:07 PM

    You can’t coach up DESIRE. DESIRE to block. DESIRE to “look the ball all the way through”. DESIRE to have “high-pointed the ball”. Don Hutson was ALL about DESIRE. Jerry Rice was ALL about DESIRE. Megatron is ALL about DESIRE. With AC, I smell another one of those incredible athletes that rely too much on their physical gifts and don’t take the steps necessary to be the ABSOLUTE best they can POSSIBLY be. I wouldn’t take him at #5.

    • renhoekk2 - Apr 20, 2015 at 4:25 PM

      I’m sure if you asked Rice, Johnson, Hutson, they would admit there were plays where they could have done better. That’s all Cooper is saying. What is the kid supposed to say when asked “What could you do better?” Reply….”Nnothing. I do everything better than anyone else.”

      Somehow though you have already have his entire game pegged as someone who lacks DESIRE, and doesn’t play hard. He was only the best the receiver in the country last season while playing in the toughest conference with a below average QB. But I’m sure he was able to accomplish all of that with a lack of DESIRE.

    • bangkokben - Apr 20, 2015 at 6:30 PM

      That is the exact opposite of everything I’ve heard about Cooper. I heard that he is the hardest worker in the entire draft and the most competitive guy as well. If anything he may have maximized his talent. The fact that you mentioned what the player knows to be his shortcomings indicates that you have no clue.

    • Caveman Cooking - Apr 21, 2015 at 1:22 AM

      It was, both, Bob Sturm’s and Rich Tandler’s assessment that said he had a lack of conviction when it came to blocking, as well as a problem with catch consistency. Those are issues that can only be overcome by the DESIRE to improve in those areas … not simply by being “coached up”, as Rich states. I haven’t “pegged his game” in any context other than what is printed in this post. If he has “maximized his talent”, then he certainly shouldn’t be considered a #5 pick. My concerns are more that he won’t maximize his talents.
      Coming out of college, many thought Jerry Rice was too slow to challenge NFL DB’s deep. We all know that wasn’t true. But, it only became true because of the incredible work ethic Jerry put into his game, including perhaps the most intense workout regime ever undertaken by a pro athlete. To this day, Steve Young recounts the story, 2 days after a Super Bowl victory, where Rice was the only other person at the 49ers facility and he was on the field running routes and catching passes.
      I’m not saying that Cooper needs to do exactly what Rice did to do well in the NFL (although, it couldn’t hurt). Just that if downfield blocking is already an issue, as well as the possibility of inconsistent hands, I wouldn’t take him at #5.

  4. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Apr 20, 2015 at 2:37 PM

    I like White’s upside more, but bottom line is the 5th pick is going to give us a shot at a few great prospects (I’ll include Beasley).

    Let’s hope we choose…wisely!
    ~

  5. Jgd2016 - Apr 20, 2015 at 6:47 PM

    Off topic Rich, but did the redskins every hire another OLB coach? I know they let Baker go, and I don’t remember seeing anything about a new coach. Thanks

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