Raiders Need To Use Amari Cooper More As A Slot Receiver Next Year
One of the (many) challenges awaiting Jon Gruden next year will be finding a way to get Amari Cooper more involved in the offense.
Cooper has been inconsistent throughout his career, but because of a handful of explosive games each year, his disappearing acts have been easier to overlook.
One idea that Gruden might consider is to use Cooper more out of the slot next year.
Cooper’s has been used in the slot for only 18% of his career offensive snaps, but his production has been significantly better on those occasions.
#Raiders' Amari Cooper has averaged 2.65 yards per route run from the slot in his career, amassing 773 receiving yards and seven TDs on just 291 career slot routes.
Away from the slot, Cooper has averaged 1.62 YPRR, recording 2,143 receiving yards and 11 TDs on 1,324 routes.
— Austin Gayle (@AustinGayle_PFF) February 3, 2018
Based on those numbers, 18% of Cooper’s career snaps have come as a slot receiver, but nearly 27% of his production has come when used in the slot.
In his best game this year against the Chiefs, Cooper posted 210 yards and scored two touchdowns. He was used in the slot for only 18 plays that game, but 95 of his yards (and a touchdown) came on those plays.
Even going back to his time at Alabama, Cooper was used sparingly in the slot, but was dynamic when he was. In his junior season (his final year at Alabama), Cooper was used in the slot only 66 times, but averaged 23.3 yards-per-reception (19 rec., 443 yds) on catches out of the slot.
(Notice he also made receptions on nearly a third of his snaps in the slot that season.)
Comparatively, when lining up on the perimeter, Cooper averaged just 12.2 yards-per-reception in his final season at Alabama.
No coach in Oakland – not even Bill Musgrave – has found a formula to keep Cooper involved for a full season. The solution might not be simple, but giving Amari a few more opportunities in the slot would probably be a good place for Jon Gruden to start.