cooper1Amari Cooper is the 17th Alabama player selected in the first round in the Nick Saban era

CHICAGO – The University of Alabama’s wide receiver Amari Cooper was selected with the No. 4 overall pick in the first round of the 2015 National Football League Draft Thursday evening at the Auditorium Theater by the Oakland Raiders.

“I came to Alabama to win, but I also wanted a chance to play in the NFL and that dream was realized tonight,” Cooper said. “This is a special night and just the start of the next chapter of my football career. I want to thank all of my teammates and coaches at Alabama for an amazing experience. I also want to express my excitement to the Raiders’ organization and all of their fans, and let them know I’m ready to go to work.”

The first-round selection gives Alabama 14 first round picks in the last five drafts. In 2011, Marcell Dareus, Julio Jones, James Carpenter and Mark Ingram all went in round one while Trent Richardson, Mark Barron, Dre Kirkpatrick and Dont’a Hightower were taken in 2012. Dee Milliner, Chance Warmack and D.J. Fluker were taken in 2013 while C.J. Mosley and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix went in 2014. UA has now had 17 first-round picks during head coach Nick Saban’s tenure at Alabama.

Cooper, who was the 2014 Biletnikoff Award winner and a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, caught a school- and SEC-record 124 passes for 1,727 yards and 16 touchdowns while leading Alabama to the first College Football Playoff. The Miami native ranked second nationally in receiving yards (1,727), touchdowns (16) and receptions per game (8.9) while ranking third receiving yards per game (123.4).

The second and third round of the NFL Draft continues on Friday evening from the Auditorium Theater in Chicago with rounds 4-7 wrapping up the draft on Saturday