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Alabama in the Pros

Amari Cooper sees no difference between NFL, SEC DBs, says both are ‘about the same’

Oakland Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper (No. 89) versus San Diego Chargers in 2015: Jake Roth - USA TODAY Sports

After posting three solid years at Alabama (2012-14) and totaling 1,000 yards as a rookie with the Oakland Raiders, Amari Cooper has had time to evaluate the difference in competition between defenders in the Southeastern Conference versus those in the National Football League.

Cornerbacks and safeties are getting bigger, faster and stronger with each draft class, but from Cooper’s perspective, the talent level is about the same. He mentioned this during an interview via SirusXM radio on Monday, stating that “overall guys are better, but overall guys are smarter.”

“That’s the biggest thing. Guys are smarter,” Cooper said. “The talent level to me is probably about the same coming from the SEC, but they are smarter so it makes them better.”

Cooper encountered his fare share of quality defenders, including Vernon Hargreaves (Florida), Cameron Sutton (Tennessee), Tre’Davious White (LSU) and Jonathan Jones (Auburn)  during his junior year in 2014.

Constant battles with DeMarcus “Dee” Milliner, Cyrus Jones, Landon Collins and Geno Matias-Smith in practice molded Cooper for life in the NFL. The 2014 Biletnikoff Award winner and Heisman finalist became the first rookie in Raiders’ history and first receiver since Randy Moss (2005) to record 1,000 yards. He collected 1,070 yards receiving and six touchdowns on 72 catches a year ago, and will be looking for more in the upcoming season.

Stephen M. Smith is a senior analyst and columnist for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @Smsmith_TDALMag

Stephen Smith is a 2015 graduate of the University of Alabama. He is a senior writer and reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. He has covered Alabama football for 15 years and his knowledge and coverage of the Crimson Tide's program have made him among the most respected journalist in his field. Smith has been featured on ESPN and several other marquee outlets as an analyst.

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