Raiders Made Rare Smart Choice with Amari Cooper at Top of 1st Round

These aren’t your momma’s Oakland Raiders.

After years of wasting their first-round draft picks on athletes instead of football players, the Raiders made the rare smart choice by selecting Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper fourth overall. It’s the second year in a row general manager Reggie McKenzie has made a pick fans can get behind, and like last year’s No. 5 overall pick Khalil Mack, Cooper is equal parts athlete and football player.

The Raiders could have screwed up the pick as they have so many times in the past. They have selected a slew of busts at the top of the first round like Rolando McClain, Darrius Heyward-Bey and JaMarcus Russell and had others such as Darren McFadden, Michael Huff and Robert Gallery disappoint.

In Cooper, the Raiders have a prospect who should become their No. 1 wide receiver right away. The Raiders haven’t had a No. 1 receiver since an unmotivated Randy Moss had 1,000 receiving yards in 2005. Not since they had Hall of Famers Tim Brown and Jerry Rice over a decade ago was it a player the fans could really get behind.

The temptation was there for the Raiders to take USC defensive lineman Leonard Williams or a pass-rusher like Clemson’s Vic Beasley, but the Raiders couldn’t go wrong with a polished player like Cooper. That’s especially true because Cooper can have a direct impact on second-year quarterback Derek Carr, who needs to improve to become the quarterback the organization and the fans think he can be.

The Raiders will only go as far as Carr takes them in 2015, so it made a lot of sense for the Raiders to give him immediate help. The Raiders also added Michael Crabtree in free agency and will get Rod Streater back from injury, so a weakness from a year ago could become a strength in 2015. The team’s top receivers from last season—James Jones and Andre Holmes—project as the tea...

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