The new reality of Amari Cooper’s Browns and what the numbers say

CLEVELAND, Ohio — The Browns agreed to a trade on Saturday that will bring six-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Amari Cooper to Cleveland. The Browns are an analytically minded organization, so let’s take an analytical look at Cooper.

1. Welcome to a new world

It probably made sense to trade for a receiver of Cooper’s caliber instead of trying to sell a marquee free agent on an offense that has ranked 30th over the past two seasons in wide receiver targets under Kevin Stefanski. . His 2019 Vikings ranked 31st.

Cooper isn’t just moving conferences and time zones around in this deal, he’s moving into a different universe when it comes to NFL offenses. He leaves a Cowboys team that has finished in the top 10 in pass attempts in each of the past three seasons, including the second in 2019. He joins an offense that has finished in the top 10 in rush attempts in the last three seasons. last two seasons, including the fourth in 2020. .

The Cowboys, meanwhile, have ranked in the top 10 wide receiver targets for the past three seasons, and Cooper was at the forefront of that. He led the team in targets in 2019 (119) and 2020 (130) and tied for second last season (104).

Jarvis Landry led the Browns with 101 targets in 2020 and 87 last season. Tight end Austin Hooper was second in both seasons, with 70 and 61, respectively. Stefon Diggs led the Vikings in targets in 2019 with 94.

2. Efficiency is the goal

Despite all that, what the Browns really want from their wide receivers is efficiency. That’s what they got in 2020 when the group ranked second in the NFL in EPA/target. They fell to 28th place last season.

Cooper has never been an analytics darling when it comes to efficiency. He ranked 30th in DVOA last season and is just one season above 27th. It was in 2019, when he placed 10th. In many ways, 2019 was Cooper’s best season. He caught 79 passes for a career-high 1,189 yards and eight touchdowns, a career-high, as well as a career-high in yards per catch (15.1).

It was also his last Pro Bowl season.

3. Look for a more explosive attack

Cooper had a great season catching deep passes in 2019, and the Browns would surely love to replicate that.

He tied for first in the Pro Football Focus standings in passing 20 or more yards (99.9) with 15 catches on 24 targets for 503 yards and five touchdowns. Dak Prescott’s passer rating when he targeted Cooper on those deep passes was 145.8, which ranked him second.

Last season, Cooper ranked 11th in deep passing quality (98.8), catching 11 of 21 for 309 yards and three touchdowns. He didn’t have a drop and provided a 137.4 passer rating, ranked sixth.

The Browns led the league in explosive play rate, according to Sharp Football Stats, but ranked 14th in explosive play rate. Adding Cooper should help that.

He could also help the Browns feel better about the explosive prospects of their current offensive scheme. After all, another team that rarely has three receivers on the field — the 49ers — led the league with an explosive pass rate last season.

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