Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper is only one game into his junior season, but one game was all West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen needed to see to declare the star as a potential No. 1 overall NFL draft pick.
"(Cooper) might be the first overall pick in the draft," Holgorsen said, according to WVU's transcript of his Tuesday news conference. "He was a really good player. He got his. He caught the ball, and he got open. (WVU CB) Daryl (Worley) held his own. Daryl held his own, and Daryl is going to be a great player for us."
Cooper made 12 catches for 130 yards against the Mountaineers, and is considered one of the top pro prospects at his position. He will be eligible for the 2015 NFL Draft if he chooses after the season to forego his last year of NCAA eligibility, and drew scouting praise from NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah for his performance in the season opener.
Cooper bulked up to (209 pounds) in the offseason and entered the 2014 campaign with a new attitude. As for whether he has pro-level speed, Cooper says he ran 40-yard dash times in the spring of 4.31, 4.35 and 4.38 seconds, which would have placed him among the best times at his position at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine.
Cooper's ability to make the first tackler miss has been crucial in his college success, as well, particularly when targeted for quick screen passes that Alabama has made a significant part of its offensive attack. Tide quarterback Blake Sims opened his career as a starter on Saturday with that very throw on his first completion, which Cooper took 24 yards after making the cornerback miss.
Cooper's numbers could be even more impressive in the coming weeks as Alabama faces lesser opponents in Florida Atlantic and Southern Miss.