Cole Beasley and Dez Bryant are the last two players to hold the title of No. 1 wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys, but that's all changed now that they've acquired Amari Cooper via trade from the Oakland Raiders. With Cooper now on board, I thought it would be fun to compare him to his previous predecessors in order to get a better understanding of what he brings to the table.
Based on the eye test alone, Amari Cooper compares more favorably to Dez Bryant than he does Cole Beasley. Cooper looks much more like the prototypical No. 1 WR the Cowboys have deployed in the past, but looks can be deceiving.
Despite being about the same size as Dez Bryant (6'2″ 220), Amari Cooper (6'1″, 211) doesn't nearly play with the same kind of strength and physicality. Cooper isn't the type of WR who is going to out physical opposing defensive backs or win a lot of contested catches like Bryant did. That's just not his game and that's okay.
In his prime, Dez Bryant was a physically dominant WR who made up for his lack of route-running ability with physical toughness at the top of this routes and superhuman like ability to win those contested catch situations. He was a bully at the catch point because of his strong hands, timing, and leaping ability. But, don't expect to see much of that from Amari Cooper.
As much as I would like to see Amari Cooper bring to the Cowboys what Dez Bryant did during his prime, it's simply not going to happen. That's okay, because Cooper's skill set is better suited for Quarterback Dak Prescott and compares more favorably to his current favorite target, Cole Beasley.
If you were to take a close look at Cooper's game film you would notice that his skill set is much more comparable to Cole Beasley. In fact, if you disregard the difference in size and skin color, you have very similar players who can do a lot of the same things in the passing game.
Precision route-running is what makes Cole Beasley so great at what he does. He is essentially a mismatch against any defensive back who tries to cover him in a one-on-one situation and that's Amari Cooper's best trait as well. But, Cooper's speed adds yet another dimension to his route-running ability and enables him to be a threat all over the field.
For wide receivers, mastering route-running is the most important trait to learn. Route-running is a combination of speed, physicality, timing, quickness, precision, awareness, and savviness. When a WRs physical tools begin to break down, falling back on their route-running skills is what can keep them in the game. If they don't have that trait developed, their career usually ends up circling the drain like Dez Bryant's.
Luckily, Amari Cooper is a magician of a route-runner. Like Beasley, he is nearly impossible to cover in a one-on-one situation. He is an expert at identifying coverages, manipulating space, and reading the leverage of opposing defensive backs. He is exactly what Dak Prescott needs in a No. 1 wide receiver.
Despite looking more like Dez Bryant physically, Amari Cooper plays like a bigger version of Cole Beasley on the field and that should excite all of Cowboys Nation and Dak Prescott.