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Amari Cooper can solve persistent problem for Oakland Raiders

Seconds after the Oakland Raiders had the unlikely decision of taking either Amari Cooper or Leonard Williams, Derek Carr chimed in with his thoughts on the No. 4 overall pick of the draft.

The Raiders’ second-year quarterback clearly approved of the team’s decision to go with a player on his side of the ball. Carr tweeted this almost as soon as Cooper’s name was announced:

Taking Williams, a stud defensive lineman from USC who went two picks later to the New York Jets, had to be tempting for Oakland. They could have paired with him 2014 No. 5 overall pick, linebacker Khalil Mack. However, the idea of pairing Carr and Cooper prevailed for the Raiders.

And, you can't blame them.

Carr, who was the only rookie quarterback in 2014 to start all 16 games last season, gives the Raiders their first chance at a franchise quarterback since they had an old Rich Gannon more than a decade ago. Now, Carr has a player who can be a legitimate No. 1 receiver. The Raiders, who haven’t been to the playoffs since 2002, have had a long parade of journeyman quarterbacks and receivers since.

Carr and Cooper can grow together. Tim Brown in 1988 was the last receiver Oakland drafted to develop into a 1,00-yard receiver. This summer, 27 years year later, Brown will be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

The Raiders aren’t looking for Hall of Fame numbers from Cooper right away. They just want to have an NFL-quality receiver. Andre Holmes, a journeyman, led the Raiders with 693 receiving yards last season. Oakland was one of two teams in 2014 that did not have a receiver with at least 700 yards. In fact, the Raiders haven’t had a 1,000-yard receiver since Randy Moss in 2005.

That streak of futility may soon be over.

Cooper had an SEC single-season record 124 receptions last season. He also had 84 more receptions than any teammate, the largest disparity between a team’s No. 1 and No. 2 receivers in the country. Cooper also had 26 receptions of 20 yards or more, which was the second highest in FBS play.

Last season, the Raiders’ best receiver was James Jones, a low-level No. 2. Jones had 73 catches for 666 yards. Now, the Raiders have Cooper and newly signed free agent Michael Crabtree as Carr’s top weapons.

The initial thoughts on new Oakland head coach Jack Del Rio -- he and Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie are both former NFL linebackers and bypassed Williams in favor of Cooper -- is that Cooper is “uniquely polished.”

Cooper has been considered a near sure thing because of his route-running ability, his college production and his worth ethic. Known for being humble, the amateur pianist, tweeted earlier Thursday:

This is what ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay recently said this about Cooper:

“From getting off of the press, to the precision of his routes, to getting his head turned around immediately as he's coming out of his break, to knowing where the sticks are on third downs and making sure he gets beyond them, he is just a really polished receiver. That's rare to see in college football right now, given the spread offense frenzy. When I studied Cooper's tape it felt like I was watching a five-or six-year NFL veteran.

ESPN analyst and former Raiders coach Jon Gruden: “Cooper reminds me of a young Tim Brown coming out of Notre Dame. Tim was "The Natural" and so is Cooper. He will line up to the left, he will line up to the right, he will go in motion, and he will be in the slot. He runs a large inventory of routes. If the coverage rotates, he knows how to adjust the pattern. He can get in and out of his breaks. He has savvy and he is elusive after the catch. We talk about how some players are high maintenance and some are low maintenance. There is no maintenance with Cooper. He just wants to be great and he goes up and gets it. He's got good length, good height, good vertical, and the way he competes when the ball is in the air separates him.”

Cooper has all the makings of becoming the Raiders’ next great receiver. It has been a while and the chance to finally end that skid was too great to pass up.