The Oakland Raiders have a shiny new wide receiver. Amari Cooper might even win Offensive Rookie of the Year honors, but is he worth a bet at these NFL odds?
Every time a GM selects a wide receiver in the first round, an angel loses its wings. It's generally not the most efficient way to use a valuable draft pick; however, when these “skill” players pan out, they can do wonders for a team's offense. The New York Giants definitely struck gold at No. 12 last year with Odell Beckham Jr (91 catches, 12 TDs). He made the Pro Bowl and was named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.
The Oakland Raiders hope they'll get similar results from their first-round pick. They took Alabama WR Amari Cooper fourth overall in the 2015 NFL Draft, and Cooper has been generating comparisons to another guy the Raiders grabbed in the first round: Tim Brown (No. 6, 1988). There's also plenty of optimism in the NFL odds, where Cooper is among the top ROY favorites at a range between +500 (The Greek) and +700 (Bovada and SIA). Deal, or no deal?
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Cooper will have to do more than live up to the hype. Brown made the Pro Bowl as a rookie and went on to have a Hall of Fame career, but he didn't win AP Offensive ROY in 1988 – that honor went to, drum roll please... New England Patriots RB John Stephens. He made the Pro Bowl that year, too.
There's no shortage of competition for this year's ROY award, either. We looked earlier this summer at the top of the NFL odds list, where Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston was parked as the +450 favorite over at BetOnline. Winston is still there, followed closely by Cooper (+650), St. Louis Rams RB Todd Gurley (+650), San Diego Chargers RB Melvin Gordon (+700), and Tennessee Titans QB Marcus Mariota (+800). Any of these “skill” players could end up being named Offensive ROY.
We've already put Mariota in our football picks, of course. Despite Beckham's heroics last year, this award usually goes to quarterbacks in the new, pass-happy NFL. It all started with Ben Roethlisberger back in 2004; five other QBs have been named ROY since then, compared to three running backs and two wideouts. Percy Harvin (2009) was the last one before Beckham.
We're not sure how much of a chance Cooper will get to shine in Oakland, either. Will sophomore QB Derek Carr be able to get him the ball enough? Carr showed some promise last year, but he also finished No. 34 among qualifying starters in passing DVOA, two spots ahead of our old friend, Ryan Lindley. Yes, that Ryan Lindley. Cooper will also have to compete for catches with another new Oakland WR, Michael Crabtree (68 catches, four TDs in San Francisco), as well as incumbent Andre Holmes (47 catches, four TDs) and others. No wonder more quarterbacks and running backs win this award instead.