Amari Cooper Backed Up His Bold Statement in Cowboys Season Opener Despite Nail-Biting Defeat

Many believed the Dallas Cowboys didn’t have a shot to winning their 2021 NFL season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Still, they appeared up to the task and outperformed expectations. Amari Cooper set expectations for himself this season. His historic Week 1 performance indicates he’s ready to back up the bold statement he made before the season.

Amari Cooper thinks he’s the best wide receiver in the NFL

Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper catches a pass during Week 1 game
Amari Cooper catches pass for the Cowboys against the Buccaneers | Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Raiders drafted Amari Cooper with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft out of Alabama. After dominating against his college football counterparts, he entered the NFL with lofty expectations.

Cooper recorded 155 receptions for 2,223 yards and 11 touchdowns in his first two seasons in Oakland. The Alabama product was named to the 2015 NFL All-Rookie Team. The Raiders traded him to the Cowboys in the middle of the 2018 season.

During his time in Dallas, Cooper has been a model of consistency. He’s recorded more than 1,000 receiving yards in both full seasons with the team, as has been Dak Prescott‘s most reliable receiving threat.

Amari Cooper made a bold statement in the week leading up to the Week 1 matchup with the Bucs. He gave himself high praise. “I think I’m the best receiver in the league,” he said per the Dallas Morning News. “But there’s a difference between thinking you’re the best and actually going out there and proving it.”

Do I think I’m the best? Yes. Have I proven it? I wouldn’t say that I have.

Amari Cooper

The 27-year-old has always been able to rack up yardage, putting together 1,000-yard campaigns in five of his six NFL seasons. He’s never put up big touchdown numbers, though. His eight touchdowns in 2019 were a career-high.

Cooper believes he has the skills to be the best wideout in the league, and he knows this is his chance to prove it.

Amari Cooper had a historic night in Cowboys loss

When a player provides a quote as Cooper did to the media, they know their play on the field has to match. The Miami, Florida native did just that and had himself a night.

Cooper caught 13 passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns. Dak Prescott targeted him 16 times, re-establishing their shared connection before the quarterback got injured in 2020.

The seventh-year wideout’s 13 receptions was a career-high and set a record for the most by a Cowboys player in the opening game in franchise history. It was also the sixth multi-touchdown game of his career.

CeeDee Lamb garnered plenty of hype heading into the regular season, based on his performance in training camp. However, Cooper is locked and loaded to remind people who forgot what he’s capable of.

If Cooper continues to play at an elite level, the Cowboys could be dangerous.

Cooper is one of the most underrated receivers in the league

The NFL’s talent pool at the wide receiver position continues to widen. Some established players have been elite for years, including Julio Jones, DeAndre Hopkins, and Antonio Brown. Young rising stars like Justin Jefferson, Calvin Ridley, and D.K. Metcalf have received praise.

Somehow Amari Cooper’s name doesn’t always come up in those same conversations, which is a shame. Early in his career, he showed flashes but never quite reached top-5 pick production. Still, when watching the film, it’s not difficult to notice the talent. In fact, it jumps right out at you.

Cooper belongs on the list of the NFL’s elite route-runners. Outside of Stefon Diggs and Keenan Allen, he may be the best. He’s been embarrassing his Cowboys teammates throughout training camp per Pro Football Focus’ Twitter.

The four-time Pro Bowler has reliable hands and is physically tough running after the catch. He exhibits excellent balance and body control. When he has a competent throwing him the football, he produces.

Amari Cooper is poised to build on his Week 1 performance and have a monster 2021 season.

All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.

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