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.