Where does Amari Cooper rank as a prospect?

NFL Draft

Alabama WR Amari Cooper has been touted as the surefire top WR in this class and there has been much speculation of where he falls on the spectrum of past WR prospects. Though I’m not convinced he is locked into the top spot, he is an excellent player who has the 3rd most receiving yards in country along with the 5th most receiving TDs as of November 26th, 2014. He is a top half of the first round pick, but is he on par with AJ Green? What about last year’s class?
Cooper is a similar size to Sammy Watkins last year at 6’1 210 pounds. He is well built, and has added muscle. He takes big hits well and keeps going. Cooper has excellent body control and he can high point footballs well. He doesn’t always utilize his athleticism to take control against good corners though. Straight line speed is not his strength. He should be between a 4.45-4.55. His timed speed will be a questions and a good time will show the upside Cooper brings to he table. He is one of the most refined route runners as a WR and uses that to his advantage. He has almost a full route tree from streaks, curls, comebacks, outs, slants, drags, and more. This is how Cooper gets separation and his cutting ability supplements it well. He does drop a lot of easy passes while making the hard ones, which could prove frustrating at the next level, but he is a solid prospect.
Here are my top ten WR prospects of the past 10 drafts (including 2015,) and you can see where Amari Cooper matches up.

1. Calvin Johnson, Pick 2, 2007

Calvin is the coup de grace of WR prospects and has proven that in the NFL. Size, speed, leaping ability, catching, he had and continues to have it all. Running a 4.35 at the combine at 6’4 213 pounds was absolutely incredible. Combine that with an 42.5 inches in vertical, and he was an athletic freak that everyone knew would become a star. Cooper doesn’t match up.

2. AJ Green, Pick 4, 2011

AJ Green had such a successful college career at Georgia and was a mismatch in every game he played in. Big, soft hands running good routes, and leaping ability to boot. He ran a 4.48 at 6’4 211 pounds and showcased great athletic ability along with production. Cooper doesn’t match up.

3. Julio Jones, Pick 6, 2012

Julio had less production but more of the freakish athleticism than Green, spurring plenty of debates going into the draft. His 4.38 40 time when combined with his 6’3 220 pound frame showed the pure upside he brought to the table. Coming from the same team and system as Amari Cooper makes it an interesting comparison, but it isn’t really close. Cooper has the better production, but Julio has better size, speed, and hands.

4. Sammy Watkins, Pick 4, 2014

Watkins was insanely productive from his first snap, had excellent timed speed (4.41,) and on field speed. His usage at Clemson made for some skepticism, but the match-up is obvious. Matching him up to Amari Cooper is intriguing. Watkins is the better athlete and made as many splash plays as Cooper over the course of his college career. Watkins is a clear step above Cooper as a prospect.

5. Mike Evans, Pick 7, 2014

This is where matching Cooper up gets dicey. He is very close to Mike Evans as a prospect for very different reasons. Evans was playing with Johnny Manziel and was only 20 years old in a spread offense. There were plenty of questions about how successful he could be, but when he came into the combine at 6’5 231 pounds while running a 4.53 40 time, the upside was crazy. Cooper is more polished than Evans was and a safer bet. Obviously Mike Evans rookie season has been great, but as prospects, Cooper is darn close.

Later in the week I will reveal the rest of the list and wrap up my thoughts on Amari Cooper!

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