NASHVILLE, Tenn. – In our series of possible first round picks for the Tennessee Titans, we continue with a player that holds every notable receiving record at the University of Alabama.
That's right – career receptions, single-season receptions, receptions in a single game, career receiving yards, single-season receiving yards, receiving yards in one game, career touchdown catches, single-season receiving touchdowns and touchdown catches in a single game – all records that belong to Amari Cooper.
Most draft analysts have Cooper as a consensus top-10 pick, but West Virginia's Kevin White is gaining momentum as a candidate for the top receiver taken in the 2015 NFL Draft. In Mel Kiper's Mock Draft 2.0 released Wednesday, he has Cooper going #4 to the Oakland Raiders with the Vikings taking White at pick #11.
Bleacher Report's NFL Draft Lead Writer Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) thinks otherwise, with White at #5 on his big board and Cooper two spots below at #7.
That doesn't mean Miller doesn't have lofty expectations for Cooper's career in the NFL.
Amari Cooper, WR (Alabama)**
Cooper's collegiate career can best be described as prolific, and even that might be an underwhelming adjective. His 124 receptions in 2014 led the nation, while his 1,727 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns ranked second. His three-year Alabama career ended with 228 receptions for 3,463 yards and 31 touchdowns.
His monster junior campaign earned him first team AP All-American and first team All-SEC honors. Cooper also won the prestigious Biletnikoff Award as the nation's top receiver and was selected as a Heisman Trophy finalist.
It was no surprise when Cooper announced he would be forgoing his senior season and entering the NFL.
Strengths: Smooth and Polished
Miller: "Amari Cooper is such a fluid route runner. I think that goes unnoticed sometimes because we fall in love with what he does after the catch. His ability to get separation is really impressive. He looks like a veteran NFL route-runner out there. He's very smooth, very technical, his timing is great and his acceleration is good.
"He's a versatile receiver in that he can make those catches on the ground and pick up yards after the catch, but he can also go down the field and fight for the ball. I think that makes him a pretty intriguing guy."
Needs to Show: Improved Hands
Miller:** "If you want to talk about things he needs to clean up or question marks, he needs to clean up some of the easy drops that you saw from him this season."
NFL Comparison: Reggie Wayne (Colts)
Miller: "I compare him to Reggie Wayne – a guy who is a good athlete, but not a great athlete, but a guy who is a great route-runner with great instincts."
That might sound like a modest comparison until you look at Wayne's career. The longtime Colt just finished his 14th NFL season and has racked up 14,345 receiving yards and 82 career touchdowns. Wayne's longevity at a position that often turns into a revolving door is remarkable.
There's something to be said for the freak athlete, but fundamentally sound, technical players often have the longer careers. It often turns into an advantage for players who don't rely 100 percent on athletic ability. If a cross-sport comparison would help, think Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs - the man known as 'The Big Fundamental'.