Lane Kiffin is one of the most reviled figures in Raider Nation.
Yet, the former Oakland Raiders head coach had a hand in developing the team’s newest member, receiver Amari Cooper. Kiffin, who was Oakland’s head coach in 2007 and part of 2008, was Cooper’s offensive coordinator at Alabama last season. Cooper praised Kiffin on Thursday night in a conference call with Bay Area reporters after being the No. 4 overall pick.
“He wanted to see every player reach their fullest potential,” Cooper said of Kiffin. “He harped on the small things with me, like looking the ball all the way through and high-pointing the ball so that I can be the best player that I can be.”
Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie said the Raiders received some calls about the No. 4 pick, but none while on the clock. The first trade didn’t occur until the No. 15 pick when the 49ers and Chargers swapped picks.
If recent history is any indication, Cooper is in line to be the next great SEC receiver to hit the NFL.
Cooper is the fourth skill position player Oakland has taken in the first round since 2007. The others were quarterback JaMarcus Russell (2007), running back Darren McFadden (2008) and receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey (2009).
Cooper is the highest receiver taken from Alabama in the common draft era. The previous high pick was Julio Jones, who went sixth in 2011 to Atlanta.
Cooper is the fifth Alabama player to be taken No. 4. Two of them, linebacker Derrick Thomas (1989) and offensive lineman John Hannah (1973) are in the hall of fame.