New York Jets: Select Amari Cooper If Available


Mike Maccagnan and Todd Bowles realize that their New York Jets have a few pressing needs. However, Amari Cooper at wide receiver is a difference maker.

It’s a tricky and dangerous proposition to draft in the Top 10 of the NFL Draft.

Because of your fortunate draft slot, you realize you’re coming off a pretty terrible NFL season. Most likely, many positional needs are present.

So the general manager and head coach can usually go in a few different directions; and picking in the Top 10, the talent available is abundant.

For both Mike Maccagnan and Todd Bowles, as well as the rest of the New York Jets, their pick at the No. 6 spot isn’t just necessary for their personnel…it’s intriguing.

Quarterback, edge rusher, safety and offensive line make up the team’s most pressing needs. Quarterback, is of course, the number-one need. Whether or not they decide to pull the trigger this year or go in an alternate route remains to be seen.

If not quarterback, most agree edge rusher is the next need.

Nov 6, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns cornerback Buster Skrine (22) celebrates on the sidelines during the second half against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. The Browns won 24-3. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

After acquiring three starting caliber cornerbacks this offseason – Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie and Buster Skrine – the argument can be made that the Jets could boast a number one defense should they find a guy who can wreck havoc along the edge.

So, prospects like Vic Beasley and Shane Ray are the most connected names with New York at the moment.

Of course, positional need is always a major contributing factor when selecting a player. At the same time though, when you’re selecting in the Top 10, difference makers need to trump positional needs.

Sometimes, the guy running the show needs to throw positional need out the window and select the guy, he believes, can be the next trend setter.

University of Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper is that guy.

For reason’s unknown to me, Kevin White caught up to Cooper as far as wide-out prospects are concerned. Actually, I take that back. I understand why White caught up to Cooper – the 4.35 40-yard time – but is still makes little sense.

At only 20, Cooper is already far beyond his years. The junior put up 124 receptions, 1,727 yards and 17 touchdowns with the Crimson Tide a season ago. That type of production cannot simply be dismissed easily. He did this, arguably, without a pro quarterback at the helm.

Make no mistake about it, White is no slouch either. He grabbed 109 balls for 1,447 yards and 10 touchdowns with West Virginia in 2014.

Both guys have a descent frame at more than six feet. Both guys are fast. The only reason White has caught up to Cooper is that some NFL decision makers feel White’s upside could be higher than Cooper’s.

White’s 4.35 40-yard beat out Cooper’s 4.42. This went a long way in making this a two-man race.

I personally do not put enough stock in that minute difference. Cooper is by far the more polished weapon, and he could have a Odell Beckham Jr. like breakout ahead of him in 2015.

Let’s be honest, Beckham Jr. didn’t wow anybody during the 2014 NFL Combine. He ran a 4.43 40-yard, put up seven reps on the bench, and went for a 38.5 vertical jump. Of course they are still great performances – and he did finish as the top performer in the 20-yard and 60-yard shuttle – but he didn’t completely overwhelm the league like White has. Instead, he fell more into the category of Cooper: a polished wide-out who’ll be ready on day one.

The knock on Cooper is that he lacks explosion as opposed to White. Where he destroys the man, though, is as a football player.

Cooper’s route-running, smarts, and deep threat ability is what fits perfectly with the Jets offense right now. White might need a year or two to fully develop.

Dec 28, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Eric Decker (87) runs for a touchdown during the second half against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

While the acquisition of Brandon Marshall was a smart, low-risk move, it sort of doesn’t progress the Jets offense. Sure, it helps, but Marshall is very similar to Eric Decker.

Cooper is by far the more polished weapon, and he could have a Odell Beckham Jr. like breakout ahead of him in 2015.

Both guys are big targets who lack considerable speed on the outside and over the top. Even slot receiver Jeremy Kerley lacks the top-end speed needed to possess a deep threat the defense needs to back up on.

The Jets can use a deep threat guy in the worst way.

White showed his explosiveness at the combine. But Cooper has shown us deep threat ability during football games. He can go deep, go up and grab it at its highest point – something the Jets sorely need down the field.

Decker and Marshall are terrific over the middle, curl to hook wide-outs. Cooper can be a guy that the next Jets quarterback can grow with. He can be a guy that the defense needs to respect deep.

Right now the Jets don’t have a guy like that. Hopefully Maccagnan pulls the trigger should this difference maker last to No. 6. Admittedly, it would be tough to pass up on a stud edge rusher, but I see special things in Cooper’s future.

Next: New York Jets Need to Stay Away from Marcus Mariota

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