Rankings are seemingly coming out each and every day as we, hopefully, inch closer and closer to the 2020 regular season. ESPN is the latest outlet releasing top-10 lists at each position, gathering opinions from different NFL executives, coaches, and players.
This week alone, we have seen Dak Prescott ranked as the ninth best quarterback in football and Ezekiel Elliott ranked as one of the three best running backs in the league. Today, Jeremy Fowler released the top-10 list for wide receivers.
Dallas, like QB and RB, saw a player land in the top-10 of the latest set of rankings. While CBS Sports was a bit higher on Amari Cooper, the former Alabama product ranks among the best at the position across the league, per the decision makers that were spoken to by ESPN.
Amari Cooper is ranked as a top-10 wideout in the NFL.
Cooper has truly blossomed as a legitimate number one wideout in football since arriving in the Lone Star State. His game has taken a leap while catching passes from Prescott, as the duo have emerged as one of the better QB-WR pairings in the NFL over the past two seasons.
Regarded as one of the elite route runners in football, Cooper has made it a habit of embarrassing defensive backs each and every Sunday while wearing The Star. One of the biggest knocks, though, is Cooper’s play on the road, which likely prevents him from truly being in that top-5 conversation with the likes of Odell Beckham, Jr. and Mike Evans.
Here is the full top-10, according to the 50 NFL personnel that were polled:
In a poll conducted with 50 NFL executives, scouts and players, ESPN ranked the top 10 wide receivers for this upcoming season. pic.twitter.com/AnAXYtAHxJ— Get Up (@GetUpESPN) July 10, 2020
Fowler describes Cooper as the “most polarizing” receiver in these rankings and by “a wide margin”. It appears some love Cooper’s natural talent and ability, while others are hesitant to rank him too high.
The most polarizing player on the list by a wide margin, Cooper took heat from several voters because of what he should be. One coordinator said Cooper is “top 10 in his sleep” with “effortless” ability, which is the problem. He’s 10th, but should be fifth.
A personnel man told ESPN that although Cooper “was the best receiver on the (free agent) market”, he “did not want to sign him”.
“There’s something holding him back,” one NFL personnel man said. “He was the best receiver on the market and I didn’t want to sign him.”
Additionally, a NFC executive went as far to say that Cooper lacks some “swag”, but that he is “easily” a top-five receiver in the league.
Cooper is from Miami but doesn’t carry that “Miami swag” and is more reserved by nature, an NFC exec said. But the exec notes he shouldn’t be punished for that and is easily in the top five.
Oddly, an offensive coordinator included the words “not a technician, sloppy but sudden” in his scouting report on the Cowboys’ go-to target. Cooper is considered as one of the smoothest and precise route runners in all of football, so that seems like a strange description of his game.
A scouting report from an offensive coordinator reads: “Big, really fast, understands runaway angles, he’ll catch it and you say, ‘How did he get to the pylon on that?’ Great double mover. Not a technician, sloppy but sudden.”
According to Fowler and ESPN, Cooper finished second in the NFL in catch-rate on passes 20+ yards downfield, while recording the most receiving yards in the boundary. Still, some point to his lack of success in high profile contests.
Cooper ranked second in the NFL with a 59% catch rate on passes 20-plus yards (13-of-22) and first in receiving yards in the boundary (within two yards of the sideline) with 176.
All of that is great, but Cooper struggled in two high-profile games last season, including catching zero passes on 30 routes run in a loss in New England, and putting up four catches for 24 yards on 12 targets in a crucial Week 16 loss to the Eagles, which all but sealed Philadelphia’s NFC East title.
A coach that was interviewed disagrees with the negative narratives surrounding Cooper, stating that “he’s a top-level receiver”.
One veteran offensive coach of several positions, however, thinks the criticism of Cooper is unfair.
“The media has put a label on him — Amari is this or that — but if you watch him and watch him work, he’s a top-level receiver,” the coach said.
While some disagree on where Amari Cooper ranks in the top-10 of NFL receivers, it appears that the consensus is that he is certainly one of the most talented at, arguably, the deepest position in the league right now. Cooper’s ability to create separation and be a reliable option for Prescott is proven and is one reason why so many are excited about the Cowboys’ passing attack.
Between Prescott (ninth), Elliott (third), and Cooper (10th) all ranking inside the top-10 of their respective positions, Mike McCarthy and Kellen Moore have a ton of firepower to work with. McCarthy has the opportunity to prove that he is the one capable of translating the talent into more wins.