ALAMEDA – A year after orchestrating one of the organization’s most productive NFL Drafts in recent history, Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie selected Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper on Thursday with the No.4 overall pick.
The choice was only somewhat of a surprise. Although some draft experts projected the Raiders taking defensive end Leonard Williams of Southern California, Cooper should provide some much-need help for second-year quarterback Derek Carr.
The 6-foot-1, 210-pound wideout will arrive in Oakland with an impressive portfolio. A three-year starter for the Crimson Tide, he ends his college career as the SEC’s all-time leader in touchdown receptions (31) and is the 2014 recipient of the Fred Biletnikoff award. Fast, exposive and “polished,” in the words of head coach Jack Del Rio, the Miami native also is regarded as an excellent route runner.
“Coop was on our board, high from the start,” said McKenzie. “It was about the player. We thought we had a chance to get a really good player and we were excited when he was there.”
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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers began the proceedings by taking Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston with the first pick. The Tennessee Titans grabbed Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota before the Jacksonville Jaguars drafted defensive end Dante Fowler (Florida), leaving Cooper for the Raiders.
The Raiders, who have not had a winning season in 12 years, have selections in the remaining six rounds. Barring trades, they will select Nos. 35 and 68 on Friday when the annual talent fest resumes from Chicago.