Pro Football Focus announced their highest-graded player per team this week. Wide receiver Amari Cooper earned the honor for the Dallas Cowboys.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper is on pace for a 94 catch, 1,507 receiving yard and 12 touchdown season through the first nine games of the 2019 season. That projects as the best Cowboys wide receiver season since 1995 when Michael Irvin caught 111 balls for 1,603 yards and 10 touchdowns.
When the Cowboys traded for Cooper last year, I posted that Cooper will have a high standard to justify the trade. I felt that the trade would need to be evaluated from intangible and tangible aspects.
First, could Cooper draw coverage to free up others helping quarterback Dak Prescott. The answer to this hypothesis is a resounding yes. Cooper has exceeded expectations as Prescott has flourished since his arrival.
The second measure was more objective. I averaged out the top 15 receivers on second contracts to project a season equal to Cooper’s salary cap percentage. I felt that Cooper would need to catch 97 passes for 1,342 yards and 8 touchdowns. So far, he has delivered.
The Cowboys checkered past trading first-round draft picks for wide receivers like Roy Williams and Joey Galloway certainly had Cowboys Nation apprehensive. For his part, Amari Cooper has been worth the price.
This week, Pro Football Focus announced their highest-graded player per team. PFF was very complimentary in describing the Cowboys number one receiver:
Cooper has been the best NFL receiver not named Tyreek Hill this season. The former ‘Bama product ranks second behind in Hill in PFF receiving grade (90.3) and yards per route run (3.02). Impressive toe-tapping snags and filthy route-running ability will do that.
Their analytical metrics are agreeing with what our eyes are telling us. Amari Cooper is a top-five NFL receiver.
Most of the Cowboys future contract talk revolves around quarterback Dak Prescott. Cooper quietly is winning the contract bet he made on himself. Spotrac estimates that Cooper is earning a top-three wide receiver contract.
The Cowboys find themselves with a problem of having too many good players deserving of high-value contracts and not enough money to go around. Dallas owner Jerry Jones is not one to let his stars leave via free agency so expect Cooper to get his payday before free agency hits in March next year.
I wanted to share some Fun Facts from the PFF list. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ highest-graded player was the 30th overall of the 2017 NFL Draft. Cowboys fans will remember that Dallas had the 28th pick that year.
The Cowboys pick was waived earlier this year and now plays for the Miami Dolphins. You’ll need a PFF Elite subscription to see his grades but despite his 4.0 sacks this season matching his two-year total with Dallas, Taco Charlton has a really big gap to close if he wants to catch T.J. Watt from the Steelers.
The Minnesota Vikings’ highest-graded player is linebacker Eric Kendricks. You might recall that he made a big play at the end of the game last week.
There is no surprise that the New York Jets’ highest-graded player is Jamal Adams. No wonder they wanted a first and two seconds for him.
The Detroit Lions player at the top of the list happens to be on the injury list. Quarterback Matthew Stafford has been ruled out for the game this weekend against the Cowboys.
The highest-rated player in the league per PFF is San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle. He was drafted in the fifth round of the 2017 draft 13 spots after the Cowboys drafted wide receiver Ryan Switzer.
For more grades, advanced statistics and more at Pro Football Focus, subscribe to PFF’s EDGE or ELITE subscriptions at ProFootballFocus.com.