Why the Oakland Raiders Shouldn’t Use #4 On Amari Cooper

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Sep 13, 2014; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver Amari Cooper (9) drops a pass in the end zone over Southern Miss Golden Eagles defensive back Kalan Reed (11) during the second quarter at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

5. Amari Cooper May Not Be That Great

Now, I know I said earlier that Amari Cooper is a great pick and I wouldn’t be mad at all if the Raiders took him at #4, but he, like every other draft prospect ever, has his flaws, and the potential for him to bust at the next level still exists. Consider this:

Amari Cooper has neither elite size – at 6’1″ and 210 pounds – nor elite speed at the NFL level. He has played his college career at Alabama, a run-first offense, where he has been able to exploit a lot of single-high safety looks and beat mediocre college cornerbacks to get open.

While he did attract a lot more attention from defensive planners in 2014, he also thrived in an offense designed by former Raider head coach Lane Kiffin, a pro-caliber offensive play designer and play-caller. He also hasn’t faced a ton of NFL-caliber cornerbacks at Alabama: only four corners he faced in 2014 were even invited to the Combine, and only one projects as a player who will make a 53-man roster this year.

Cooper also has some bad habits as a route-runner, often breaking off his routes early or altering them improperly, which can lead to a lot of problems in a quick-timing based NFL offense. Cooper also has a tendency to drop balls, generally due to focus issues, and the Raiders had enough problems last season with drops out of their young wideouts. While he has a sturdy frame for a wide receiver, he doesn’t always use his body well, often exposing the ball to being swatted or picked off by a defender.

I’ll admit this last section is a bit of a stretch. Cooper is more likely to be the next Julio Jones than the next Marquise Lee. He’s probably going to be a very good receiver for an NFL team, and, again, I wouldn’t be furious if that team were the Raiders. But with a draft as deep in receiver talent as this one, and as replete with defensive talent as this one, there’s no need to take him with the fourth overall pick. Look for Reggie McKenzie to use that pick for someone or something else.