In his first full season with the Dallas Cowboys in 2019, wide receiver Amari Cooper cemented himself as one of the NFL's premier receivers. The former Alabama standout finished with 79 receptions for 1,189 yards, which was the seventh-highest mark in the league a year ago, and only six other pass-catchers had more receiving TDs than him.
Yet, according to one advanced statistic by Pro Football Focus, Cooper wasn't even the most valuable wide receiver in his own division. That title would belong to Washington Redskins wideout Terry McLaurin.
Sure, you're probably wondering how PFF was able to evaluate that. Well, the site used the WAR (wins above replacement) metric to calculate the overall value of each player. McLaurin boasted a 0.6 PFF WAR mark in 2019, which was the best of any wideout in the division.
"Terry McLaurin was the most valuable wide receiver in the NFC East last season, and there's a reason," PFF's George Chahrouri said on the PFF Forecast. "This guy can go downfield. He can catch and run with it. He was the highest-graded rookie last year, better than [Tennessee Titans WR] A.J. Brown."
The Cowboys' SB Nation blog, 'Blogging the Boys,' seemed to take the distinction to heart.
— Blogging The Boys (@BloggingTheBoys) July 7, 2020
To be fair, Cooper did post better numbers than McLaurin in almost every major receiving category. However, the Cowboys pass-catcher was gifted more targets and additionally had the benefit of playing with quarterback Dak Prescott, who was one of the league's best passers in 2019.
As a rookie in Washington, McLaurin was forced into the No. 1 wideout role immediately. He answered the bell and excelled right away, totaling five-plus receptions and a TD in each of his first three NFL games. This was all despite having a constant revolving door at quarterback, playing with three different passers under center in 2019.
In just 14 games, the third-round pick finished with 58 catches for 919 yards, just eight yards shy of breaking the franchise's rookie receiving record. McLaurin's seven receiving touchdowns accounted for almost half of Washington's scores via the passing game, too.
With second-year passer Dwayne Haskins set to be Washington's quarterback in 2020, Chahrouri envisions McLaurin making an even bigger jump this season.
"Terry McLaurin is going to be one of the best wide receivers in the NFL," Chahrouri said.
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