Alabama Football: How Amari Cooper Can Take His Game to the Next Level in 2013

Randy ChambersAnalyst IJune 17, 2013

You could make an argument that Alabama's Amari Cooper is the best receiver in the SEC. Last season he led the Tide with 59 receptions, 1,000 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns as a freshman. Only Chad Bumphis of Mississippi State had more receiving touchdowns (12) in the SEC.

That type of production could convince you that he doesn't have anything to work on. He knows it all. Of course, that is the furthest thing from the truth. He was a first-year player who finished five games with fewer than three receptions. There is plenty of room for him to grow and become, arguably, the top receiver in the country.

Literally growing would help Cooper take his game to the next level. ESPN lists him at 6'1", 198 pounds. He is tall, but also lengthy and very lean. He doesn't have elite size and that prevented his production at times last season.

You can see in the video that a lot of Cooper's production came from running go routes. He would use his speed to his advantage by giving the defender a double move and blowing by him. Cornerbacks had to respect his speed and bite on the fake, but that won't be the case after they see this film. The route running became predictable, and the deep balls can be limited by shifting the coverage and leaving a safety up high.

Although Cooper has proven he can catch the ball in double coverage and win jump balls, he will have to add on weight to become more versatile. Cooper didn't catch many passes running across the middle of the field, and he struggled to break tackles. Much of this has to do with his lack of size. You can't get physical with defenders and take a pounding when you are under 200 pounds.

According to Andrew Gribble of, this is why Cooper put on a solid seven pounds. He looks bigger and is a lot faster, as he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.34 seconds, per the report. He also mentioned that he knows more of the playbook. A combination of knowledge, strength and speed will allow Cooper to run different routes. He will no longer be a one-trick pony.

At more than 200 pounds, Cooper would have been able to break this tackle and walk in for a score. That's Missouri's Randy Ponder, who is listed at 5'10", 190 pounds. He was able to stop Cooper dead in his tracks with practically one arm. This is a matchup he will win with his new frame.

Cooper is the playmaker for this Alabama offense. He will continue to be asked to spread the field and beat single coverage deep by simply outrunning slower defenders. However, more versatility will now be added to his game. This includes more slants, flats, posts and comeback routes.

He will be able to hit defenses with different plays and become a threat all over the field. That double move will no longer be a ploy to get open deep. Instead, defenses will have to respect the possibility of him going over the middle and being a threat after the catch.

Then, Cooper will have taken his game to new heights.


Note: All screenshots were pulled from YouTube video uploaded by user Money282.


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