Amari Cooper Projected to Have Better Rookie Season Than Kevin White


The debate over Amari Cooper and Kevin White has engulfed draft analysts as well as fans in the countdown to the 2015 NFL Draft as everyone seems to be debating the merits of two players who could be potential future stars at the wideout position once entering the league. Cooper, a smaller and more polished underclassmen from Alabama drawing the initial hype as the best WR prospect in the draft through a season with the Crimson Tide in which he won the SEC title after dominating in season ending games against Auburn before the SEC Championship game against Mizzou.

More from Las Vegas Raiders Draft

On the other end of the debate is White, a taller and slightly more athletically gifted senior out of West Virginia who grew in the spotlight over the course of the season before exploding at the 2015 NFL Combine. White put up 1,447 yards receiving and 10 touchdown catches for WVU, showing his prowess in going up to get the football on multiple occasions as an artist of the highlight reel touchdown to make it a true debate from scouts/analysts over who is the top receiving prospect in this upcoming draft class.

Nathan Forster of Football Outsiders weighed in on the debate recently and came up with the conclusion that despite the recent love for White, who could develop into an equally important talent for a team in the league, that Cooper is still going to have the better rookie season as the top wideout of the 2015 draft class. Citing Cooper’s experience playing in a pro-style offense against the top defenses in the NCAA as reasons why it is easier to project the Alabama man having better initial, and potential longterm success in the NFL.

While breaking down white, it was noted that his total numbers are good, but as a senior the benchmark for becoming a successful star wideout in the NFL was higher than the numbers the Mountaineers star put up. White’s stats also could be inflated just a touch according to Forster, who noted that the Mountaineers threw the ball 534 time in their air-heavy attack in 2014.

From Football Outsiders (ESPN Insider link):

"Unlike many wide receiver prospects in this year’s draft, Cooper did not play in the spread, and he faced some of the toughest defenses in the country. Historically, Cooper probably best compares to Indianapolis Colts great Marvin Harrison as a prospect; Cooper was not quite as dominant as Harrison was at Syracuse, but the mid-’90s Big East wasn’t a match for today’s SEC, either.The case against White begins with the fact that he is entering the NFL as a senior, rather than as an underclassman. White’s total numbers for his senior year were good: 1,447 receiving yards, 10 touchdowns. However, the numbers for senior wide receivers who succeed at the NFL level are often much better than White’s, especially considering that the Mountaineers threw the ball 534 times."

The White/Cooper debate has many takes, but this one from the Football Outsiders crew has a lot of merit as the factors they used are very real ones with Cooper’s skill as an underclassmen being compared to White’s senior year on a team that was pass heavy in a weaker conference. Based on the numbers, Cooper is probably the best bet for a team looking to take the first wideout in the draft, but there is something to be said about White’s athletic edge playing a factor in the scouting process as the taller player could catch the eye of a general manager over the smaller Cooper.

Nobody knows what will happen on the day of the first round, but it appears like the consensus will stay with Cooper as the player who will be taken first in the draft at wideout. Entering the offseason draft process as the best wide receiver on the board, teams should stick with their initial projections on a player who dominated SEC defenses as an underclassmen even if White’s senior season pushed him into the discussion. Both could be future starts in the league, but for a team who are planning on risking a Top 5 or Top 10 draft pick, Cooper makes the most sense to take first if he is on the board. Something that the Football Outsiders staff appear to agree with.