April 31, 2015 9:58 PM PT
Alameda, California– With the fourth-overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, the Oakland Raiders selected WR Amari Cooper (Alabama). The 2014 Fred Biletnikoff Award winner and Hesiman Trophy finalist joins the Silver and Black after a three-year career with the Crimson Tide (2012-14), totaling 228 receptions for 3,463 yards (15.2 avg.) with 31 TDs. Here is some more information on the Raiders’ first-round selection, as well as a closer look at some highlights from Cooper’s illustrious collegiate career.
In three years at Alabama, Cooper emerged as one of the nation’s most explosive and polished receivers. Below is a look at his offensive totals at Alabama.
Year School Games Rec Yds Avg TD
2012 Alabama 14 59 1,000 16.9 11
2013 Alabama 12 45 736 16.4 4
2014 Alabama 14 124 1,727 13.9 16
TOTALS 40 228 3,463 15.2 31
2014 Fred Biletnikoff Award winner — Nation’s top wide receiver –
2014 Unanimous All-American and Preseason All-American
2014 SEC Offensive Player of the Year and First Team All-SEC
Third in 2014 Heisman Voting (1,023 points)
2012 Consensus All-American (FWAA, Sporting News, CBSSports.com, CollegeFootballNews.com and Scout.com)
2012 SEC All-Freshman (selected by coaches)
Two-time SEC Champion (2012, 2014) – BCS National Champion (20
• Ranks first in SEC annals (since 1956) with 31 career TDs
• Finished first in the SEC, and second in the NCAA, with 16 TDs in
• Second in the SEC with 11 TDs as a freshman in 2012, an Alabama freshman record
• Ranks third in SEC history (since ‘56) with 228 career receptions
• Topped the SEC and NCAA in 2014 with 124 receptions, setting the
• In 2012, finished with 59 cathces, second all-time among Alabama
• Second all-time in SEC history (since ‘56) with 3,463 yards
• Led the SEC, finishing second in the NCAA, with 1,727 yards in 2014 • His 1,000-yard season in 2012 was good for fifth in the SEC that season, and the third-best yardage total among Alabama freshman
Jack Del Rio, ” Polished”
“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,” Del Rio said. “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 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 (draft) class.”
Jack Del Rio answers a question about if you ink Amari Cooper in as a starter from day one.
“I think the way we like to do things is to come in and earn your role and compete,” Del Rio said. “But the expectation level should be high for a young man that comes in that is selected that high in the draft. But he’ll need to prove it on the field and earn it. That’s how, really, it is with everybody. There certainly is a high expectation that goes along with somebody selected that high.”
General Manager Reggie McKenzies Comments:
“Cooper was high on our board from the start,” general manager Reggie McKenzie said. “Honestly, it didn’t matter about the position. It was about the player. We thought we had a chance to get a really good player.
“It’s nice when it goes hand in hand, when you have a player that fits one of your needs. It was great when that fell into place.”
Raiders only meeting with Amari Cooper was at the combine. They didn’t bring him in for a workout. They learned about Cooper by talking to people around the Wide Receiver. They also had some inside knowledge of the player. Linebackers coach Sal Suneri’s son Vinny was a defensive at Alabama with Cooper from 2012-13.
He’s a character player supremely focused on football, but McKenzie also lauded Cooper’s on-field ability, which the Raiders have studied for some time.
“It seems like he can run a route with his eyes closed,” McKenzie said. “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.”
“When Cooper was there, we were excited,” McKenzie said. “We had an idea of kind of how the draft would go, but when Cooper was officially there, it wasn’t a whole lot of debate.”
Amari Cooper’s Conference call Q & A
Q: Considering the Raiders weren’t one of the teams that brought you in for a visit, how shocked were you to hear your name called when they were on the clock?
Cooper: “I wasn’t that shocked. I kind of knew they liked me.”
Q: How did you get that feeling that they liked you?
Cooper: “Just talking to them at the combine.”
Q: You were targeted 170-something times last year. As an NFL rookie, you might not be targeted that many times. Is that going to be frustrating for you?
Cooper: “No. I’m just going to work as hard as I can and whatever results yield from that, I’ll be fine with it.”
Q: People talk about how polished you are. What are some of the things that you think you still need to work on most?
Cooper: “Just being consistent in my performance. Looking the ball all the way through every single time, so that I can catch the ball as many times as it’s thrown to me. High-pointing the ball every time. Just the small things to make me a better player.”
Q: Do you know anything about Derek Carr?
Cooper: “From what I’ve heard, he’s a really great, young quarterback. To be honest, I didn’t watch many NFL games last year. What I’ve heard, he’s a really good quarterback and I can’t wait to build a rapport with him.”
Q: How much did Lane Kiffin help you to develop to the player you are?
Cooper: “He wanted to see every player reach their fullest potential. He harped on the small things with me, like looking the ball all the way through and high-pointing the ball so that I can be the best player that I can be.”
Q: How did you develop your approach? Where did that come from?
Cooper: “Just being diligent and conscientious as a receiver. Just trying to be the best I can be. I think for the most part, it’s come because I’ve played this position all my life. Usually when you get a wide receiver at the college level, they haven’t played wide receiver their whole life.”
Q: How young were you when you started playing wide receiver?
Cooper: “Third grade. From the time I started playing football, I’ve always played the same position.”
Q: How did you choose to play wide receiver in the third grade?
Cooper: “I didn’t choose it. I wanted to play running back because when you’re young, all teams really do is run the ball. We had two great running backs, one was the coach’s son and the other one was really good, but they knew I was a great athlete, too, and they used me at receiver.”
Q: One thing that you are better at than most prospects is your route-running. How much of that have you focused on?
Cooper: “I’m a wide receiver. There are only two ways you can get open at wide receiver, your releases and the top of your route. The whole route-running process is really important. I just focused on it and try to be the best that I can at it so I can create as much separation I can for my quarterback.”
Q: Did you watch any specific wide receiver on film to pattern yourself after?
Cooper: “When I started playing wide receiver at a very young age, my coaches tried to teach me how to run a route. I was already good at it because I had been doing it already in my backyard, I just didn’t know what the routes were called. I was pretty good at cutting so it came pretty natural and pretty easy.”
Q: What’s your experience level with California and the Bay Area?
Cooper: “I’ve been there twice just recently. I went there for a Nike shoot and for [ESPN’s] Sports Science. My first time being there was in the past month.”
Q: So, in fourth or fifth grade, you’re in your backyard running routes?
Cooper: “No it was before that. It was when I was like five or six before I started playing organized football. Me and my friends were in the backyard just playing football.”
Q: So you’d just run the routes and they’d throw to you?
Cooper: “Yeah, we would just play against each other. We’d try to guard each other. We had to find ways to get open, that’s what I mean when I say I was already running routes. I was just finding ways to get open. When I had to run a slant route or a comeback route, which the coach called it, I was already familiar with running and getting open so it came easy.”
Q: Would you say it was perfecting your route running that led to your breakout season last year?
Cooper: “It was a combination of different things. I think my mindset is probably the most important thing. Being able to stay positive through whatever injury I had or whatever situation I was going through and focusing on the best player I can be and the best teammate I can be.”
Q: What drew you to football as a kid?
Cooper: “Probably this place called The Barnyard, it was my after school program.”
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