The Dallas Cowboys had a rough start to the 2018 season going 3-4 in their first seven games. In an attempt to turn things around they acquired Wide Receiver Amari Cooper from the Raiders for a first-round pick in 2019. The price seemed a little steep to some but in actuality, the Cowboys were in desperate need of a true number one receiver.
After losing the first game he played in wearing a Cowboys uniform the team was off to the races winning seven of it’s final eight games, in large part to the play of their new weapon in the passing game. He would finish with 53 receptions for 725 yards and 6 touchdowns for Dallas, which if you multiply his averages over those nine games is 94 receptions for 1,289 yards and 11 touchdowns for an entire season.
So clearly Cooper and Quarterback Dak Prescott have chemistry but I believe it can get even better for a few several reasons. First, the return of All-Pro linemen Zack Martin and Travis Frederick. Joe Looney, Xavier Su’a-Filo, and Connor Williams were all solid in there absence but these two are the best at their respective positions league-wide. Frederick is the quarterbacks so to speak of the offensive line. He’s Prescott’s eyes when it comes to calling out protections and getting the unit where they need to be. Martin, who plays to the right of Frederick, is the most dominant guard in the league. With these two back, Prescott will have even more time in the pocket, and Cooper will have opportunities to take advantage of his individual matchups. With his exceptional route running, which you can argue is the best in the NFL, his numbers could go up a bit.
Next, there’s the Ezekiel Elliott factor. Just the threat of him in the run or passing game creates opportunities for Cooper. When defenses have to cover Elliott out of the backfield, it can create more one-on-ones for him. Also, the more effective Elliott is as a runner it causes defenses to drop that safety in the box, which again opens up single coverage for Cooper.
Lastly, there’s his receiver brethren Michael Gallup and Randall Cobb. Gallup finished with 33 receptions for 507 yards and 2 touchdowns as a rookie in 2018. Those numbers could have been a lot higher but the chemistry with Prescott was still a work in progress. If you’ve watched him in training camp and the few reps he’s gotten in the preseason, it’s clear said chemistry has improved tremendously. The bigger threat he is on the outside the harder it will be to shade coverage to Cooper, which will allow him to feast on cornerbacks left on an island.
Cobb has the unique ability to play both the slot and on the outside, but the former will be where he’s utilized the most. The more he can produce carving up defenses in the middle of the field it again leaves Cooper in single coverage a lot, and if you go by the film, asking one defensive back to cover him is an uphill battle.
Cooper has been sidelined with plantar fasciitis for about a month now but recently returned to practice to prepare for the season opener this Sunday against the New York Giants. If all these factors mentioned can hold true for sixteen games I believe Cooper can start putting his name in the conversation with guys like Julio Jones, Antonio Brown, DeAndre Hopkins, and Odell Beckham Jr when you talk about the top 5 receivers in the NFL. He’s already top 10 easily but there’s another level he can reach. Will it happen in 2019? Only time will tell.