Just 10 games into his NFL career, wide receiver Amari Cooper already has proven he’s a star.
The rookie from Alabama has 51 catches for 736 yards and four touchdowns, and is averaging 14.4 yards per catch.
The addition of Cooper and veteran Michael Crabtree has given young quarterback Derek Carr a terrific tandem of wideouts and helped raise Carr’s game to a new, higher level in 2015. The two are on pace to each gain more than 1,000 yards receiving.
Cooper already has been labeled one of the NFL’s brightest young stars and the potential NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. He had three 100-yard receiving games in his first six, the first time that’s happened since Bears Hall of Fame tight end Mike Ditka did it in 1961, according to ESPN Stats and Information.
Coming out of Alabama, the No. 4 overall choice in the draft has shown he’s a terrific route runner who also has the ability to go after the ball. And, once he gets it, he’s dangerous. He ranks 12th in the NFL in yards after catch (330) and has 10 catches of 20 or more yards.
“He’s amazing, he’s awesome and he’s one of the best in this league,” said Carr recently. “Obviously, because he’s a rookie and hasn’t done it for a certain amount of time, people won’t say that, but he’s one of the best.”
But as terrific as Cooper has been, he’s hit a bit of a slump lately.
He had just one catch in the loss to the Lions this past Sunday and had two drops. Plus, Carr threw his way only four times. Cooper had those three 100-yard performances in his first six games but has had none in his past four.
And, there’s this: Though Cooper ranks among the NFL’s top receiving leaders, he also ranks among receivers with the most dropped passes. As Jimmy Durkin of the Bay Area News Group noted this week, Cooper has 10 dropped passes, the second-worst total in the NFL behind Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans (who had six drops in just one game this season).
But Carr this week praised Cooper for his confidence and work ethic, and said he knows Cooper will bounce back. Perhaps one big catch, when the 4-6 Raiders take on the 2-8 Titans on Sunday, will get Cooper rolling again.
Head coach Jack Del Rio, too, didn’t seem worried about Cooper’s performance against the Lions and said the Raiders must find ways to get the ball into his hands.
“He’s a good player,” Del Rio told the media. “He’s been very consistent in his approach. We like the approach he has. We’ll work through whatever things need to be corrected.”