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Redskins Draft Countdown: Alabama WR Amari Cooper

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Redskins Draft Countdown: Alabama WR Amari Cooper

The NFL Draft is just over a week away and I’ll continue researching the prospects throughout the lead-up to the draft. Along the way I’ll be sharing some of what I find out with Real Redskins readers. The focus will be on players in areas of need for the Redskins but I might look at players at just about any position since Scot McCloughan has said that he will take the best player available regardless of need.

Amari Cooper
Wide receiver
Alabama

What they’re saying:
What I liked: This shouldn’t take too long.  He is fantastic in almost every regard.  He has tremendous hands and long speed that puts him in a class of receivers that can run the entire route tree from just about any spot.  He is great as an outside threat with comebacks and crosses and go-routes, but from the slot, he is a real strong, underneath threat as well.

What I did not like: Like everyone, I have to wonder why the drops occur when they do. He has great hands and technique most of the time, but perhaps from sheer volume or a lack of concentration he sometimes loses sight of the ball.  Also, he doesn’t always appear convicted about blocking.
Bob Sturm, Dallasnews.com

How he fits the Redskins: The Redskins would be fine without adding a wide receiver this year but the draft is about the future and they will be in need of a top wide receiver very soon. DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon will carry cap hits totaling nearly $20 million next year and both will turn 30. Andre Roberts is younger but his cap number jumps up to $5 million next year, a number that makes him of questionable value given his mediocre production.

Amari Cooper would be an instant help to Robert Griffin III or whoever is playing quarterback for the Redskins. The fact that he’s a sharp route runner already—that’s a skill that a rookie receiver doesn’t always have—will let Griffin operate knowing that Cooper is where he is supposed to be. As Griffin works on his game he would have a friend in Cooper. With Cooper, Jackson, and Garçon in the lineup, if Griffin doesn't make it, it won't be because he had no weapons to work with.

Cooper is used to playing with a QB who is a work in progress. He caught 109 passes last year with Blake Sims as his quarterback.

Potential issues: I think we should dispose of the knock that Cooper has too many drops. Yes, he dropped eight passes in 2014 according to the guys at CollegeFootballFocus.com. You read some analysts who have watched him and you'd think he is a modern-day version of Rod Gardner, a former first-round pick of the Redskins who was nicknamed 50-50 because it seemed that those were the odds that he would hang on to a pass that hit him in the hands. But CGG also counted 174 targets for him, a huge number, making his drop rate 6.1 percent. That’s higher than you want ideally but it’s not awful by any means.

As Sturm noted, Cooper does not seem to be very enthusiastic about blocking at times. However, when he is at the point of attack he does an adequate job. There should be time to coach him up on this since so many other parts of his game seem to be NFL ready.

Bottom line: Let’s say that the two quarterbacks go 1-2 in the draft and Dante Fowler Jr. and Leonard Williams are taken next. That would mean the top two defensive players are gone and Cooper and West Virginia receiver Kevin White are still on the board. Does McCloughan go with the polished Cooper, perhaps the most NFL-ready prospect in the draft? Or does he turn in a card for White, who is not nearly as polished but a couple of inches taller, a step faster and the more physical of the two.

To put it in simplistic terms, White appears to have a very high ceiling but also a low floor. There is little chance that Cooper will bust but he may never be an All-Pro, dominant receiver. Does McCloughan take a chance on greatness? Or will he take the player who appears to be more of a sure thing (with the caveat that there really are no sure things in the NFL draft)?

In his own words:

Cooper on what he thinks he can do better:
I think I can be more consistent in everything that I do. There were definitely times when I didn't look the ball all the way through when I should've, which could've propelled me from maybe 200 yards to probably whatever that catch may have been. There were definitely times when I could've high-pointed the ball, and again could've made my numbers look better.
Previously in Draft Countdown:

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New #RedskinsTalk Podcast: JP & Tandler break down Redskins draft targets, and players to avoid

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New #RedskinsTalk Podcast: JP & Tandler break down Redskins draft targets, and players to avoid

How plausible is a draft day trade? Could the Redskins move up? And what to do about all those 'diluted samples'? JP Finlay and Rich Tandler break it all down.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Redskins roster by the numbers: Defense

Redskins roster by the numbers: Defense

The Redskins currently have 75 players on their roster. They are about to add some more in the draft and as undrafted free agents. They can have up to 90 players on their offseason roster. Year after year the distribution of those players to positions are consistent. We can look at what they have and see what they need to sign to get through OTAs, minicamp, and training camp.

Let’s break down the numbers by position and see where they will need to add players to get to where they want to be going into training camp. Last week we looked at the offense; today we’ll look at the numbers on defense.

End

Have: 6
Need: 8

Just like in a game, you want plenty of players to rotate through the line in the heat of training camp. They could carry one or two additional players here since they are legitimately in search of players who can have an impact beyond starters Terrelle McClain and Stacy McGee and pass rushing project Anthony Lanier.  

Nose Tackle

Have: 2
Need: 4

Like with the ends, you want to have a few big guys to rotate in when it gets hot in Richmond. It would be surprising if the Redskins didn’t add a nose tackle to the mix in the draft, probably on Saturday.

Inside linebacker

Have: 9
Need: 8

If the Redskins take an inside linebacker in the draft, as many expect that will, this position would get very crowded. They could keep as many as six on the final 53-man roster if there are a couple of key special teams players in the group.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 10.0

Outside linebacker

Have: 7
Need: 7

They could keep an extra one or two if they find some in the draft. You can’t have too many pass rushers, although they have kept just four on the final roster recently.  

Cornerback

Have: 7
Need: 8

It has always seemed to be a little odd to me that they’ll bring in a dozen wide receivers and only seven or eight corners.

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins mock 2.0 goes offense early, defense often

Safety

Have: 7
Need: 7

The depth chart here is unusual in that all seven players have significant NFL playing time; there is no “training camp fodder” here. If the draft one, an experienced player might be let go.  

Total defensive players under contract: 38
Total needed for camp: 41

There are 34 offensive players and three specialists on the roster, making the total 75. If they don’t make deals and use all 10 of their draft picks that will leave just five spots to sign undrafted free agents. They likely will want to sign more than that meaning that some of the players currently on the roster will end up getting cut, particularly those on the defensive side.

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.