NFL scouts, coaches and combine participants are filing into Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind., for the 2015 NFL scouting combine. Thursday kicks off the bench press competition, yet Friday will witness all offensive skill players take the field. This year’s draft is littered with marquee names at wide receiver, including Alabama’s Amari Cooper.
Cooper looks to do more than just impress others with intense pull-ups. Friday gives him an opportunity to showcase his speed, hands, body control and route running abilities. He was consistent at Alabama in 2014, totaling 124 catches for 1,727 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Cooper enters the 2015 NFL draft as Alabama’s all-time leading receiver, posting 228 catches for 3,463 yards and 31 touchdowns. He has size; standing at 6-1/210 pounds, yet Cooper’s best asset is deception. He excels at reading defensive coverages, and making subtle moves to create separation. Cooper’s speed and knowledge commands a double team, opening opportunities for others. His leaping abilities weren’t limited in 2014, despite wearing a brace on his left knee.
Kevin White, Sammie Coates, Phillip Dorsett and DeVante Parker all will compete along with Cooper.
White, weighing in at 6-3/210 pounds, had a stellar senior year at West Virginia. He led its receiving corps with 1,447 yards and 10 touchdowns on 109 catches. He’s recorded 1,954 yards and 15 touchdowns on 144 catches in his tenure. White possesses speed, hands and route running capabilities. He may be the most talented receiver in this draft class; however, blocking isn’t his strong suit. White draws a lot of comparisons to Arizona Cardinals’ receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
Auburn’s Sammie Coates is the third-most physical player to come from its program, aside from Cam Newton and Vincent “Bo” Jackson. Coates is a freak athlete at 6-foot-2 and 201 pounds. He put together a productive season in 2014, despite injuries. Coated caught 34 passes for 741 yards and four touchdowns.
He’s registered 1,757 yards and 13 touchdowns on 82 catches in his career. Coates has solid hands, balance and body control, but speed and route running are weaknesses. He has to come up huge in the 40-yard dash, and consistently be on the same page with the quarterback. Coates’s strengths are high-pointing the ball and creating separation.
Phillip Dorsett may be the best route runner that Miami’s produced since Reggie Wayne. He started all 13 games for the Hurricanes in 2014, accounting for 871 yards and 10 touchdowns on 36 catches. Dorsett exits Miami with 2,132 yards and 17 touchdowns on 121 receptions for his career. He displays solid top-end speed as a receiver and a return specialist.
It’s being rumored that Dorsett could possibly have the best 40-time in the combine. Creating separation is an aspect Dorsett needs work in. He chimes in at 5-10/195 pounds. Dorsett’s size could easily cause him to get jammed at the line of scrimmage or knocked off his routes.
Louisville’s DeVante Parker is an interesting specimen. He was Teddy Bridgewater’s primary target in 2013, and he helped build confidence in Will Gardner in 2014. Parker led Louisville in receiving yards (855) and was tied for the team lead in touchdowns (5). He has 33 touchdowns to go along with 2,775 career yards. Parker is lanky at 6-foot-3, but needs to add more weight to his frame.
A deep receiver’s class in the mix for 2015, and with players like Jaelen Strong, Dorial Green-Beckham, Devin Smith, Nelson Agholor, Rashad Greene and others, NFL owners and general managers will have numerous selections to choose from.
Amari Cooper is the best combination receiver. He can line up as a deep threat or in the slot. He knows when to use a double move, and when to defeat a defensive back with pure speed. Cooper will be selected as a first round pick. Multiple NFL analysts have him off the board, going third overall. Friday will be his chance to prove those predictions a reality.