Tale of the Tape: Amari Cooper vs Kevin White

If you listen to sports talk radio it seems as if every few days, there is a debate on which wide receiver should be drafted first. If you are a draft junkie, you know that the debate is between Alabama’s Amari Cooper and West Virginia’s Kevin White. Not only is it debated on sports talk radio, it is also been the subject of debate in recent mock drafts. I thought it would be a good idea to break down the two players using just about every criteria a scout uses when making an evaluation. Size – The advantage has to go to White, as he is almost two inches taller. At the combine, White was 6’3 – 215 while Cooper was just over 6’1 – 211. White also has a little more length with 32 5/8” arms to Coopers 31 ½”. Cooper has an advantage in hand size with his hands measuring 10” and White’s being a small 9 ¼”. Speed – Though both are fast, there is an obvious advantage to White as he ran a 4.35 to Cooper’s 4.42. If they had run side by side, that difference isn’t a lot, but still White is a bit faster. Athleticism – The best way to compare the two athletically is by using the different combine measurable drills, as they were done at the same place, at the same time, and on the same surface. In short, the criteria was identical. In the two jumps which measure explosion, the advantage goes to White. His vertical jump was 36’5” and his long jump was 10’3”. Cooper had an average 33” vertical and a 10’ long jump. At the Combine, skill position players are tested in three different agility drills. They run the 20 yard shuttle, the 3 cone and the 60 yard shuttle. Personally, I feel the important ones are the 20 yard shuttle and the 3-cone as they measure explosiveness, quickness, change of direction, and body control. I have felt for years that the 60 yard shuttle is a waste of time as it is more of an endurance test. When I was with both the Bears and Giants, we never used the 60 yard shuttle as part of the evaluation process and I won’t here. There are many clubs that feel the same way. In both change of direction drills, Cooper’s time was about .20 faster. Cooper's 20 yard shuttle time was 3.98 and his 3-cone was 6.91. White timed 4.18 and 6.92. It’s fair to say that White is a little faster in a straight line and has a bit more lower body explosion. Cooper on the other hand is quicker and with better change of direction and body control. Production – Anytime you evaluate a player, production is always a very important criteria. Cooper had far more production and against better competition. In the 2014 season, Cooper had 124 receptions for 1727 yards, a 13.9 yard average per catch and 16 touchdowns. White had a very good season also totaling 109 receptions for 1447 yards, a 13.3 yard average and 10 touchdowns. In his three year career at Alabama, Cooper totaled 228 catches for 3463 yards, a 15.2 yard average and 31 touchdowns. White who was a junior college transfer, played two seasons at West Virginia and totaled 144 catches for 1954 yards, a 13.6 yard average and 15 touchdowns. It also has to be pointed out that Cooper plays in the SEC which is hands down the best conference in college football. White plays in the Big 12 which is a more offense oriented and the overall defense is suspect to say the least. I also have to point out that Cooper had top production his entire three year career at Alabama, while White was more of a one year wonder at West Virginia. Going into the 2014 season, Cooper was considered the top wide receiver in the country. White wasn’t rated nearly as high based on his one year at West Virginia. Overall Play – When comparing numbers, its easy being that it’s very black and white. The same can’t be said when scouting a player’s talent on the field. Then it becomes subjective and scouts will almost always have some disagreement. Why? Because they may look at players differently. That’s not to say one is right and one is wrong, it’s just a difference in opinion. Looking at both players on tape, I find both to be very talented. I feel Cooper is asked to do more in a more sophisticated pro-style offense. He has a larger route tree and also is lined up in a variety of spots. White plays in a college spread, where he is not asked to do as much. When comparing route running, I feel Cooper has the advantage. He runs excellent routes, does a good job setting up defenders, can get in and out of cuts quickly and is consistently able to get separation. White is also a good route runner and he knows how to use his size to his advantage. He doesn’t run as many types of routes but he also is able to get in and out of cuts quickly. He has great hands and does an excellent job adjusting to the ball in flight and makes some very difficult catches. Cooper also has excellent hands and tracks the ball just as well. I feel that Cooper’s run after catch ability is a little better than White’s. They both are adequate blockers. Summation – I know that if it was me making the decision for a club, I would take Cooper over White every time. He has been productive over a three year period in a tough conference, and no team has been able to shut him down. I very much like White’s talent, and I feel he will be an excellent pro. But in deciding who to take, the fact that he has really only “done it” for one year works against him. He will have a bit more of a learning curve when he gets to the NFL later this year. While Cooper is my preference, that doesn’t mean he will be drafted before White. The team who chooses a receiver first will make that decision. It will depend on who they have ranked higher. Either way, the team that selects Cooper and the team that selects White will become better because they have those players on their rosters. Both have the skill set to become a legitimate number one receiver for their team. Follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe

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