Alabama in the Pros

Former Tide receiver Amari Cooper to thrive with Dallas Cowboys

Matthew Emmons - USA TODAY Sports

Maybe he just needed a change of scenery from the “Gruden Grinder” and the black hole that is Oakland, Calif.

As good as Amari Cooper is and as efficient as he was at Alabama, one could tell that the No. 4 overall pick from the 2015 NFL Draft was not happy wearing silver and black. 

After his first two seasons went better than scripted, injuries and dropped passes hindered Cooper from having a marquee third year in the league. When the Raiders decided to bring Jon Gruden back to Oakland, he told the media that Cooper will be “the focal point on offense.” 

Gruden’s promise to the former five-star did not last, as he rarely was targeted this season and ended up getting traded to the Dallas Cowboys. Regardless of him wanting to win with his own players, Gruden’s decision to dump Cooper did not sit well with others inside the locker room. 

Without he and inside linebacker Khalil Mack, the Raiders lost two game-changing talents on both sides of the football. Despite both Oakland and the New York Giants tanking at 1-7, hope still remains for the Cowboys at 3-5 in the NFC East. The addition of Cooper provides quarterback Dak Prescott with a hungry and polished go-to weapon at wide receiver. 

His debut on “America’s Team” was great for fans to witness on Monday Night Football, seeing how he totaled five receptions for 58 yards – including a 4-yard touchdown from Prescott in the first quarter. Cooper worked against two-time Super Bowl champion and All-Pro cornerback, Malcolm Butler on an out route.

The crafty Florida native faked a motion inside and then quickly turned outside, giving Prescott an open target and Cooper stretched the ball across the pylon. 

It has an established running back in Ezekiel Elliot and arguably the best offensive line in the National Football League; however, pairing Cooper with Prescott may finally improve confidence in the passing game. Prior to his arrival in the NFL, Cooper was Alabama’s all-time career leader in receptions (228), receiving yards (3,463) and touchdown receptions (31). 

He set the school’s single-season receiving mark in 2014, accounting for 1,727 yards receiving with 16 touchdowns on 124 catches.

Although he has been to the playoffs with the Raiders, Cooper is excited about what he can do in Dallas.

Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.

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