Throughout the 2014 season, as the Oakland Raiders offense struggled to push the ball up the field through the air, speculation grew that the Silver and Black would look to draft a wide receiver come Spring. That speculation picked up steam as soon as the season ended and it became a forgone conclusion as the 2015 NFL Draft approached. The question remained, which one? The experts seemed to settle on two possibilities: Alabama's Amari Cooper or West Virginia's Kevin White. The Raiders called Cooper's name with the 4th overall selection and signed him to his rookie contract about a week later.
Cooper has lived up to the hype so far. His scouting report described a polished pass-catcher with crisp route-running abilities. All accounts discussed his work ethic and lunch-pail approach to the game. The coaching staff and the media have seen nothing less. Former players, including Pro Football Hall of Famers Tim Brown and Jerry Rice, have taken notice.
Video Game Cred
Raiders.com's Tyler Moorehead noted that Cooper has the highest rating of any rookie in the upcoming Madden NFL video game.
"There has been a lot of praise thrown in the direction of Oakland Raiders rookie wide receiver Amari Cooper this offseason, but today No. 89 might have received the best honor yet: he was rated the top overall rookie in EA Sports' 'Madden 16' videogame."
Hall of Famers Take Notice
Soon to be inducted Hall of Famer and Raiders all-time leading receiver Tim Brown is impressed with the young receiver.
"This guy is just a superb, great receiver and I think he's going to be dominant Day 1. I saw him at the Heisman deal and I told him then that I hope he's still there when the Raiders pick, because there was no way they could bypass him. I just thought that he was that great of a not-miss-type pick. I can't wait to see him Day 1. I think this guy is going to be great. He just has to get used to playing 20 games now."
Jerry Rice Compares Cooper to Former Teammate**
"They have their new Tim Brown. He's very much like Tim Brown, very explosive, got speed to burn, really going to strike fear into the opposing team."
Already Impressing Woodson
Teammate and future Hall of Famer Charles Woodson has also taken notice and he has compared Cooper to a former teammates, wide receiver Greg Jennings, and the greatest receiver he ever faced, former Indianapolis Colts great Marvin Harrison.
"I remember in 2006 in Green Bay, we got a kid named Greg Jennings and he was a guy right off the bat, you knew he had it. Amari is the same way. You watch him and his releases, coming off the line, you watch him getting in and out of breaks. He has that 'it' factor. He reminds me a little bit of Marvin Harrison. He was the best receiver I played against in the NFL."
Former NFL Players Impressed
Bucky Brooks and Nate Burleson appeared on The Dave Dameshek Football Program on NFL.com about a month ago and discussed Oakland Raiders rookie wide receiver Amari Cooper.
"I think Amari Cooper is going to rip it up, just watching what we've seen from him in Oakland, his route running has even improved from the time he left Alabama," Brooks said. "He is going to be a guy who right now comes in and plays."
"He's destined for a Day 1 break out," Burleson said. "Not saying he's Marvin Harrison, but Marvin Harrison-esque, maybe he's not on the highlights every week, you want a guy who's consistent. You want a guy who can help a young quarterback."
His NFL.com scouting report included the following**: "Asked to become a dominant offensive threat and did so. Accelerates to top speed and stays there at the top of his routes. Consistently able to get defenders leaning before breaking them off in the other direction. Owned the post route. Play speed includes a second gear. Good feel for traffic on crossers and is able to adjust and avoid the big hit. Unafraid to work the middle and secures the tough catch in traffic. Sticks it and gets it out of breaks, creating instant separation. Not content to sit in zone as covered target. Works to make himself presentable to quarterback. Competes hard and makes big plays in big games. Worked outside and from slot and varies his route speed. Tracks the ball well and has burst to run under and finish for six. Caught absolutely everything during NFL Scouting combine workout."
Cooper is already on the watch list for rookie awards:
In May, NFL.com released a list of potential Offensive Rookie of the Year candidates for 2015. Among their six selections was Raiders 1st round draft pick WR Amari Cooper.
From NFL.com: "On a team in dire need of receiving talent, you can believe Cooper will step into a starting role in short order, probably from Week 1. And if Derek Carr is counting on a career turnaround from Trent Richardson for a running game, you can also believe Cooper could end up being the focal point of the offense."
Talk of the Web
Teammates and members of the media have taken to social media to discuss the Silver and Black attack's new weapon: