Amari Cooper exploded on the collegiate scene in 2012 breaking all Alabama freshman receiving records held by the incomparable former Tide standout and current Atlanta Falcons play-maker, Julio Jones. Subsequently, the South Florida native obliterated every single season and career reception, receiving yardage and touchdown reception mark at The Capstone. Thursday evening the Oakland Raiders chose the 2014 Fred Biletnikoff Award recipient with the fourth choice overall in the 2015 NFL Draft.
No Alabama player had ever achieved the distinction of being the top player at the wide receiver position in an NFL Draft. Amari Cooper was the first name off the board last night. Additionally, he becomes the highest a Tide receiver has ever been drafted surpassing Julio Jones, a sixth selection overall in the 2011 NFL Draft. Five other wide receivers were chosen in the first round on Thursday. The last time six wide receivers garnered this much attention was in the 2009 NFL Draft.
Oakland Raiders Head Coach Jack Del Rio was impressed with his accomplishments on the college level and stated at the press conference, “Well, I think it was a big part of the process, going through and looking at all the tape. Obviously the scouts have been on this player for a long time. He’s had a very productive college career and coaches loved him, scouts loved him. It’s good when you get a guy that there’s a lot of respect for his body of work.”
He further stated, “I would just say that when you talk about this young man coming in at this level, as a draft prospect that has not played in the NFL yet, it’s unusual when words like ‘polished’ are thrown out, but that’s what you see. He has been lined up all across the board – outside, both sides, inside the slot, moving around, even lined up in the backfield some. So he’s been exposed to a lot, been utilized a lot of different ways. He’s run the entire route tree. They compete at Alabama, just competing in that conference in the time that he’s had. The repetitions that he’s had playing the position, running the route tree and doing all the things that he’s done to develop himself, makes him a guy that has that label of being polished. That’s why, he’s earned it. It’s rare when you find guys that come into the league and they have that kind of polish on them coming out. Typically, guys – they can’t get off press [coverage] – they have something they haven’t done. He has pretty much done all those things. He knows how to get off press. He knows how to attack defenses, find the soft spots and run the full complement of the route tree. So that sets him apart in terms of the rest of this class.”
General Manager Reggie McKenzie was an advocate of Cooper on-and-off the field, “I’ll talk about some of his skills and I’ll let Jack talk about how he’s going to use him in the offense. His skill set, he can run a route. It seems like he can do that with his eyes closed. He’s exceptionally quick, he’s fast and he understands the game. You can tell the guy’s been playing football and playing that position all his life. You can tell that. He’s an extremely hard worker and you don’t hear any negatives about this guy, so it’s no wonder he’s as good as he is because the intangibles outside of his skill set are extremely high.”
Vigilante observers of the first team All-American have learned one thing. If Amari Cooper is involved in any endeavor he invariably outshines the competition. He is a star; check that, a superstar on all levels. Legendary Oakland Raiders football owner and executive Al Davis coined the trademark team phrase, "Commitment to Excellence" a derivation from Hall of Fame Coach Vince Lombardi. He said, "The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.” Bay Area fans can anticipate Amari Cooper pursuing the stated goal of the silver and black. Throw it deep has lived for decades as the famous phrase describing the offensive passing philosophy echoed by the organization. The 6-1, 211 pound Cooper can fulfill the promise pledged to the Raider nation. Just ask the Crimson Tide faithful. They witnessed the magnificence of Amari Cooper for three years in Tuscaloosa.