The Oakland Raiders have plenty of needs to address in this coming draft, and it's looking like they'll have a clear shot at the #1 pick. While there are a number of players worthy of the #1 pick this year, there's one who can instantly transform Oakland's offense: Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper. Here's why the Raiders would be crazy not to take him:
1. He can help right away. Cooper won't need an adjustment period or years of development to reach his potential - right now, today, he would already be Oakland's best wide receiver. He quickly grasped Alabama's pro-style offense, and his fundamentals and mechanics are the best we've seen out of a college prospect since Calvin Johnson. While he might not have Johnson's size advantage (Cooper is 6'1), he makes up for it with his route running, awareness, and phenomenal balance.
2. None one on Oakland's roster looks like a #1 receiver. James Jones is a very solid player, but at this stage of his career, he's best coming out of the slot. Rod Streater has shown flashes, but he's struggled with injuries and consistency. After those two, the pickings are slim. You can't win in this league without a legitimate downfield threat, and having Cooper wouldn't just give the Raiders their best WR since Tim Brown left - it would immediately open up the field and create more opportunities for Jones and Streater.
3. Oakland needs a skill player, and there are no available running backs at Cooper's level. The Raiders' ground attack is considerably worse than their passing game (no small feat), but Oakland is much more likely to address that through free agency than the draft. While Melvin Gordon and Todd Gurley are going to be solid NFL players, neither is worthy of being the #1 overall pick...Cooper is. If the Raiders do end up drafting a running back, look for them to target someone like Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah or Miami's Duke Johnson later on.
4. Derek Carr needs Cooper more than the defense needs a first-rounder. Guys like USC's Leonard Williams and Nebraska's Randy Gregory would be perfectly solid first-round picks, but Oakland's leaky defense is still a less glaring problem than their increasingly dire offense. Derek Carr's development will stall without receivers who can make plays downfield, and Oakland doesn't have anyone on the roster right now who can do that consistently. If Carr is Oakland's quarterback of the future, they need to find him a game-changing wide receiver to help him reach his potential...and this draft is stacked with impact players on defense who the Raiders can snag in rounds 2-4.
5. They might not need to take him #1 overall. Cooper could easily go first, but there are plenty of teams who'd rather use the #1 pick on Oregon's Marcus Mariota or one of the top DEs available. Cooper won't be available for long, but Oakland can potentially trade back a few spots in the top 10 while getting their guy and another bonus pick in the process.
Amari Cooper is going to be a bona fide superstar in this league, and the Raiders desperately need a wide receiver. Reggie McKenzie (or whoever is making the calls when the draft rolls around) has their work cut out for them.
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