Pro Football Hall of Famer Cris Carter knows better than to assume Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper will have an NFL career like that of Randy Moss -- 15,000-plus NFL receiving yards is an awfully long way off for any college junior -- but he does see some similarities between the nation's most prolific receiver and the man he once mentored with the Minnesota Vikings.
And he thinks Cooper could be a No. 1 overall NFL draft pick.
"I don't know what he's going to do in the pros, but since Ozzie Newsome, Alabama has the best wide receiver that they have had in the history of their school and his name is Amari Cooper," Carter said on the "Mike and Mike" radio show Monday, according to bamaonline.com. "He is a true junior from Miami, and he is fabulous. His ability to run routes -- I met Amari when he was in high school at a football clinic and he's probably the most advanced wide receiver that I have seen at a young age since Randy Moss. He has unbelievable speed, unbelievable demeanor, route running, the sky is the limit."
Along with the Randy Moss comparison, by calling Cooper the Tide's top receiver since Newsome, Carter is also putting him ahead of Atlanta Falcons star Julio Jones. Jones starred at Alabama from 2008-2010, and was a bigger and more physical presence than Cooper. But Jones' hands weren't as reliable as Cooper's at the college level, either.
Cooper has posted a school-record six consecutive 100-yard receiving games dating back to last season, and on Saturday, he made a much-anticipated head-to-head matchup with Florida All-SEC cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III look like child's play: 10 catches, 201 yards, three touchdowns. He drew high praise from NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah, and has even put himself in the late-September Heisman Trophy conversation. Cooper has 43 receptions for 655 yards and five touchdowns through four games. If he chooses to forego his final season of NCAA eligibility, he could enter next year's NFL draft.
"He could be the first pick in the draft as a wide receiver and he has everything from a character standpoint that you would (want) on and off the football field," Carter added.
With a first-year starter at quarterback in Blake Sims, there were questions in the preseason about whether Alabama would be able to get the ball to its star receiver often enough. Much the opposite has proven to be the case, however, as Sims' development has been marked by a heavy reliance on Cooper.
And if Hargreaves can't slow that connection down, there is little reason to believe anyone else will this season.