On Monday, Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper broke into the NFL Network’s list of Top 100 Players for the first time.
Now entering his third pro season, Cooper made his debut at No. 53 on the annual ranking. It prompted a Twitter message from his quarterback, Derek Carr, that said, “@AmariCooper9 yes sir! Top 100!!! Well deserved. Keep Climbing!”
Certainly, that’s Cooper’s attitude, too. He’s pleased about the recognition but knows he still has room to grow.
Though Cooper has had a terrific start to his career, becoming just the third wide receiver ever to have at least 70 catches and 1,000 yards in his first two seasons, he told Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group this week that he can be even better.
“I know that I can have a lot more production than I’ve had in the past two seasons, so we’ll just see,” he told McDonald.
As McDonald wrote, Cooper has been sensational over the first half of his first two seasons, but has faded after that. He had 45 catches for 665 yards in the first eight games of 2015, but had just 27 for 405 in the final eight. In 2016, he had 52 receptions for 787 yards in the first eight games but only 31 for 366 in the final eight.
Cooper says he’s working hard this offseason – focusing on the fundamentals and mechanics of receiving – to improve.
“I want to be the best Amari Cooper that I could possibly be,” he said. “I want to be better than every other year that I’ve played football, so that’s how I am looking at this year.”
Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio agrees that as good as Cooper has been, “he’s just scratching the surface of what he wants to accomplish in this league.”
This past year, former Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin said Cooper is simply outstanding. He sees Cooper continuing to grow as a receiver as he and Carr mature together with an improving Raiders team.
“I love that kid, man. I love that kid,” he said. “And I love Carr, too. I love the combination.”