Watching Amari Cooper on game film in 2021 was like watching snow melt.
He looked average in every sense of the word, and he looked like his best days are clearly behind him.
Back when I was in the pro scouting department with the Jets, we had a grading system indicating if players were getting better, worse or if they stayed the same. There was either an arrow going up, an arrow going down or an arrow going sideways next to the grade.
Cooper would now have an arrow going down in that grading system I worked with.
With the possibility looming the Dallas Cowboys’ may soon release Cooper, Jets’ media seems to be all in favor of the team signing Cooper.
I stand alone and say Cooper is a hard pass.
In 2021, Cooper caught 68 passes (104 targets) for 865 yards and eight touchdowns.
Two things jump out about his stats, the catches to targeted ratio and the number of touchdowns.
Cooper is not sure handed and he has an average catch radius (ability to catch passes that are are not thrown accurately). Cooper additionally has noticeable rigidity in his body movement, that makes adjusting to passes thrown behind him next to impossible.
Some will point to his eight touchdowns, which was tied for No. 16 in the league, but that was not without concern either.
On game film, Cooper turned it on near the end zone, but between the 20’s, he was a lazy route runner who tended not to pick up additional yardage after catches.
Cooper’s body language on the field lacked energy and he gave off a vibe of being disgruntled.
While Cooper may have a quarter of a tank left for a contending team (I won’t recommend him), he is absolutely not a fit for this young Jets team. If his route running looked sluggish on playoff contending Dallas, I can not imagine what it would look on a team that is rebuilding. Cooper does not remotely fit the Jets from a chemistry standpoint.
Cooper does not fit the kind of wide receiver quarterback Zach Wilson needs either. Wilson tends to be all over the road with his ball placement at all three route ranges (short, medium and long). He needs receivers with big catch radiuses. Wilson additionally needs receivers who have the demonstrated ability to pick up nice chunks of yardage after catching short passes. Cooper does not fit that description.
Cooper excels most at securing short range passes and then he often gets tackled almost immediately.
He flashed ability to find soft spots in coverage down the hashes at the intermediate route level.
He showed zero ability to make anything happen deep.
Evaluating is about finding players who will upgrade the team’s talent level, and I was least impressed by Cooper of any of Dallas’ receivers. It is no wonder they are considering releasing him.
When I studied Cooper in six games in 2019, I gave him a “C” grade. I was shocked when Dallas team owner Jerry Jones turned around and rewarded his ‘highlight film of poor route running’ that season with a $100 million dollar contract.
Should the New York Jets Target Amari Cooper This Offseason?
Grading Amari Cooper
6-foot-1, 210 pounds
2021 game film reviewed: (10/31) MIN, (12/26) WSH and (1/2) ARI
Grade: C (average; nothing special about the player)
Thicker framed possession receiver with average playing speed, flexibility, and hands. Mostly a short range option who rounds off at route breakpoints. Likes to work towards the sidelines. Tends to body catch and did not secure everything that was within his grasp. Bobbled sometimes. Struggled to pick up yardage after receptions. Has difficulty creating separation due to not having natural burst at break points. Tends to compensate using “set-up speed” (starting out slow and turning it on more) to create small margins of separation. Looks like is going through the motions in his route running. Uses his frame well to box out corner to secure the ball if it is right on target. Struggles adjusting if the ball is not on target (high or behind). Flashed vertical. Could not create separation deep. Very average run blocker. Nothing to write home about as a receiver. Base hitter.
The last thing the Jets need is to bring in a disgruntled veteran who is an energy drain on the roster.
That is not the direction this team is headed in their receivers’ room with high energy guys like Elijah Moore and Braxton Berrios.
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