The Dallas Cowboys trade for former fourth overall pick Amari Cooper said a lot about their feeling towards the previous depth at wide receiver, as well as what the team is looking for in pass catchers for Quarterback Dak Prescott.
This picture became clearer when Will McClay joined the Jason Garrett show on DallasCowboys.com to break down some film on Cooper. On Thursday, I wrote about the implications of the Cowboys losing a first round draft choice in their move for Cooper, none of which included McClay – who clearly shows an understanding of how the former Oakland Raider can help the Cowboys.
Cooper is an incredibly efficient route runner that defeats man coverage in a variety of ways, something the Cowboys have been lacking so far this season on the outside. Cole Beasley has been their most consistent receiver in these areas, leading the team with 33 catches out of the slot.
Beasley may remain Prescott’s first option in the passing game for the Cowboys week nine game against the Titans, but Cooper’s integration into the offense has come along nicely during the Cowboys ongoing bye week.
From top to bottom, the Cowboys have a lot riding on Cooper’s ability to make an immediate impact, and this surely includes McClay. An architect to the Cowboys roster, it’s McClay that dictates the Cowboys preferences at each position much more than Jerry and Stephen Jones, who pulled the trigger on this high-profile trade.
McClay’s first look at Cooper in the video above shows the importance of beating press coverage in the Cowboys offense. With Scott Linehan as their coordinator, the Cowboys passing game relies more on individual success than it does scheme to create plays.
Cooper’s ability to beat the man across from him, using the “quickness” and “speed” that McClay describes, should help him greatly in Dallas.
Asked #Cowboys WR Amari Cooper about possibility similarities between this playbook and Raiders since his last 2 offensive coordinators worked under Scott Linehan: “This is a pretty different system but it’s still easy, still not that hard to pick up.
Next, McClay explains the importance of Cooper making a vertical play out of a heavy 22 personnel play by his Raiders. Three of Prescott’s eight passing touchdowns this season have come on play action throws such as this, as the Cowboys could feature much more deception in their running game to free up Cooper.
Running Back Ezekiel Elliott remains the Cowboys best play maker on offense. When McClay says that having a receiver who can get deep helps an offense, it should be music to Elliott’s ears as he looks to keep pace with the league’s best rushers.
With that, the Cowboys are hoping to remain in contention in the NFC East, needing to add Cooper to a receiver corps featuring Cole Beasley and rookie Michael Gallup as the only other real contributors. Cooper’s presence makes the Cowboys passing game formidable enough to evaluate Prescott as a passer at the very least.
With Beasley set to hit free agency after this season, the Cowboys may not be (and shouldn’t be) done adding talent at WR just yet. Whether they’re scheduled to pick early in the second round should their 3-4 record worsen, or maintaining depth on offense in a revived passing game, a lot of the Cowboys philosophy on receivers in Linehan’s offense was revealed in this segment by McClay.
While other Cowboys staffers will be relying on this Cooper trade working out for their own job security, McClay will continue to evaluate this roster as it pertains to the 2019 Draft and free agency. Cooper’s overall effect on both tasks feels large enough to justify trading a first round pick, while impatiently awaiting his debut on November 5th against the Tennessee Titans.