Player Comparison: Amari Cooper vs. Kevin White

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Route Running

Oct 12, 2013; Lexington, KY, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver Amari Cooper (9) runs the ball against the Kentucky Wildcats at Commonwealth Stadium. Alabama defeated Kentucky 48-7. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Next up is route running. There are more specifics than what we’ll look at but for the sake of this comparison, here is what we’ll use: Release off the line of scrimmage, separation, and ability to run a full route tree.

Release: This is a WR’s ability to get open off the line of scrimmage, particularly when facing press coverage. In order to have an excellent release, you’ll need to have smooth footwork, good hand usage, and a quick initial burst.

The footwork disguises which direction you will head. The hand usage keeps the cornerback from grabbing your jersey or knocking you off your course. The quick initial burst is needed to get by the cornerback when you make your move. There’s a bit more to it than that of course, but that’s the gist of it.

This is where Amari makes his money. His release off the line of scrimmage is impressive, and it’s consistent. Even though he isn’t the biggest WR around, he is able to avoid getting jammed at the line.

White will have better success releasing from more physical cornerbacks, but his first move won’t get him as free as Cooper’s does. Advantage: Cooper.

Separation: A WR needs to be able to get open just at the right moment, in cohesion with the QB’s throw. Timing is incredibly important in the NFL, so that’s why a WR needs to be able to separate, otherwise they’ll be left fighting for contested balls all game long.

Cooper is fluid in and out of his breaks, and his movements are very sudden. His ability to change of direction while not losing speed is tops in this class, and also among the best of any WR prospect in recent years.

White showed a great improvement year over year in this regard, and is a solid route runner in his own right. He’s a tremendous athlete with great long speed, which allows him to get open on routes further down the field. White also works his way back to the ball very well, and can lose his assignment when the QB is in trouble.

Advantage: Cooper. This is where Cooper’s bread is buttered. I consider him to be an elite route-runner, and one of the best prospects in this area in several years.

Route Tree: A quick plug for Matt Harmon who does very impressive NFL Draft work. He has an ongoing series called “Reception Perception” which analyzes how often a WR will run a certain route, and how often they will have success running that route.

First, the charts for Cooper.

To explain it simply, the percentages in the “Route Tree Percentage” chart are how often that route was ran. The “SRVC” percentage in the second chart means ‘Success Rate Versus Coverage”, so it’s simply just the percentage of how successful they were in running each route.

The more balanced the percentages in the first chart, the better. The higher the percentages in the second chart, the better.

Next, the charts for White.

As you can see, Cooper ran a balanced route tree, and he had success in just about every area.

White’s route tree isn’t nearly as diverse, and has a lesser success rate in several areas.

I highly recommend taking more time to read up on Reception Perception, it’s truly great work. Cooper’s full breakdown can be found here, and White’s can be found here.

Before you do that, though, let’s get this comparison finished.

Next: Miscellaneous: Amari Cooper vs. Kevin White