What Makes Amari Cooper so Good?


Amari Cooper was the consensus top wide receiver prospect up until the combine. At the combine, Kevin White blazed through the forty yard dash with a time of 4.35 seconds, unearthing Cooper while White spread his roots and settled in as the top wide receiver prospect on many analyst’s big boards. While both are fantastic prospects (I have Cooper at 5 and White at 6 on my most recent big board) Cooper offers a bit more from a technical standpoint. After terrorizing SEC defenses all year with his lightning speed and thunderous running after the catch, Cooper is ready to take the NFL by storm. What exactly makes Amari Cooper so good? Lets break it down.

College Production:

2012: 59 receptions for 1,000 yards (16.9 ypc) and 11 touchdowns.

Dec 6, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide receiver Amari Cooper (9) catches a pass Missouri Tigers defensive back John Gibson (1) in the second quarter of the 2014 SEC Championship Game at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

2013: 45 receptions for 736 yards (16.4 ypc) and 4 touchdowns.

2014: 124 receptions for 1,724 yards (13.9 ypc) and 16 touchdowns.

After a very good debut season in 2012, Cooper battled injuries throughout 2013 which led to missed games and a down year. However, in 2014 Cooper enjoyed a massive bounce-back season thanks in part to Lane Kiffen brilliantly using his extremely talented wide out.

Combine Measurements and Drill Results:

* indicates position best time

Height: 6’1”

Weight: 211 lbs

Arm Length: 31 1/2”

Hands: 10”

40 Yard Dash: 4.42 seconds

Vertical Jump: 33”

Broad Jump: 120.0”

3 Cone Drill: 6.71 seconds*

20 Yard Shuttle: 3.98 seconds*

At the combine, Cooper measured in with solid height and weight. He ran a blazing 40 yard dash backing up his reputation as a burner while also displaying his explosion with a solid broad jump. Where Cooper really excelled at the combine was in the quickness drills, particularly the 3 cone drill and the 20 yard shuttle where he put up position-best times in each drill. This further backs up Cooper’s ridiculous quickness on tape.


+ Runs extremely crisp routes that are very advanced for a collegiate player. Plants foot and explodes extremely quickly and without losing speed. Very fluid.

+ Not scared to make catches over the middle or in traffic.

+ Sticky hands on tough catches. Makes hard catches look routine.

+ Can get open at any level whether it be short, intermediate, or deep. Cooper’s speed alone is hard to keep up with, but when you add on his quickness, instincts, and catching ability it makes him an extremely hard cover. Stiff corners are going to have a VERY hard time sticking with him in man coverage. I’m looking at you, Trae Waynes.

+ Understands different coverages well. Good at finding the soft-spot in a zone defense.

Nov 29, 2014; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver Amari Cooper (9) catches a touchdown pass in the third quarter past Auburn Tigers defensive back Jonathon Mincy (6) at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

+ Great at picking up yards after the catch. Avoids defenders with cuts, jukes and can simply outrun most defenders.

+ Positions body very well while the ball is in the air. Will use body to box out defender. Tracks ball extremely well while it is in the air, especially on deep balls.

+ Excels on the outside and in the slot. Can be moved anywhere to take advantage of the defense.

+ Great at using hands and body movements to avoid corners attempting to press at the line.

– A concern prior to the combine of mine was that Cooper doesn’t consistently win the 50/50 balls. After posting a semi-underwhelming vertical jump of only 33”, my concerns were backed up. However, how big of an issue is it if he is consistently able to get open at all levels?

– Missed a lot of 2013 with injuries. Durability is a minor concern.

– Needs to give more effort as a run-blocker. Relies on the corner being an unwilling run supporter rather than actually trying and removing the corner from the play.

– Suffers some focus drops. Dropped 13 passes over the last 2 years.

– While his cuts and explosion on routes is fantastic, he tends to stray from the route late in the play, which sometimes leads to errant throws due to the QB and WR not being on the same page.

Player Comparison:

Dec 21, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Buffalo Bills receiver Sammy Watkins (14) is defended by Oakland Raiders cornerback D.J. Hayden (25) on a 42-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

I’m going to go with Sammy Watkins. Cooper and Watkins possess similar size and builds, and like Watkins, Cooper is coming into the NFL ready to contribute immediately. Both Watkins and Cooper have a tremendous amount of explosion in and out of their breaks, and run good routes. Cooper ran a 4.42 40 yard dash while Watkins ran a 4.43. Both underwhelmed in the vertical jump with Cooper turning in a 33” jump and Watkins registering 34”. Like Cooper, Watkins turned in a strong first season in college, while falling off the next year due to injuries and then dominating in his final year at Clemson.


Amari Cooper is a high-floor, high-ceiling prospect. All year long respected defenses (Including Auburn, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Ohio State and Missouri) knew exactly what was coming, but even with defenses honed in on stopping Cooper they still couldn’t do it. I noticed two common ways that stood out to me where defenses tried to remove Cooper from the game. The first was with a safety over the top focused solely on Cooper. The way this was exploited was with inside breaking routes in front of the safety that simply no college corner could keep up with. The second way that defenses attempted to remove Cooper was by shifting a linebacker or extra corner over in zone coverage with the goal of stopping the “Quick-Hitters” Cooper routinely takes advantage of over the middle while having the corner play off-coverage to try and take away the deep ball. What happened in this scenario was that Cooper often had a couple of different routes he could choose from given the situation, and it often resulted in Cooper winning on a comeback or a post route. He was also able to take advantage of this situation with screens. Cooper’s glamorous 2014 resume includes huge games vs Florida (10 receptions, 201 yards, 3 touchdowns), Auburn (13 receptions, 224 yards, 3 touchdowns), Tennessee (9 receptions, 224 yards, 2 touchdowns) and Texas A&M (8 receptions, 140 yards, 2 touchdowns). Cooper will give whatever team drafts him a go-to receiver who can step in immediately as the team’s number one receiver. A fun fact about Amari Cooper is that he was actually High School teammates with none other than Teddy Bridgewater. Chemistry? Check.

Thank you all for reading, don’t forget to comment below and follow me on twitter @jackmack28!