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Nick Saban sees Julio Jones, Amari Cooper very differently


TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Few know better than Alabama coach Nick Saban whether former Crimson Tide wide receiver Amari Cooper can make the NFL impact former Alabama star Julio Jones has. But if he does, the former Miami Dolphins coach believes it will come in a very different way.

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One thing Cooper can't replicate at the pro level is Jones' size (6-foot-3, 220 pounds).

"They're totally different guys. Julio Jones is a fantastic big, strong, physical guy who has been very productive in the NFL," Saban said at Alabama's pro day Wednesday. "Amari Cooper's style is just a little different in terms of the quickness that he plays with, the running ability that he has. Great hands, smart player. Both guys are outstanding, but their styles are a little different."

Cooper isn't exactly small at 6-1 and 210, and plays bigger than that in traffic and on "50-50" balls that require an instinctive, well-timed leap. But Jones is more of a tackle breaker after the catch, while Cooper relies more on making defenders miss.

Cooper shattered school receiving records in 2014 with 124 catches for 1,727 yards and 16 touchdowns with help from first-year offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin's heavy reliance on the Biletnikoff Award winner.

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Cooper said his first NFL club to visit following pro day will be with the Jacksonville Jaguars, who hold the No. 3 overall pick. Cooper could go a long way toward making Blake Bortles' development at quarterback a smoother ride in Jacksonville, although the club has a greater need for an impact pass rusher.

Asked to compare himself to West Virginia receiver Kevin White, who is Cooper's primary competition to be the first receiver chosen in the draft, Cooper laughed and declined.

Julio Jones comparisons, no doubt, are quite enough.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.



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