Give Brandin Cooks the eyeball test and you might see another NFL slot receiver. The Oregon State product looks like the type that will set up a pace off the line of scrimmage close to the middle of the field and use his quickness to expose slower defenders.
In size and stature, Cooks is practically a Randall Cobb clone. Whereas Cobb stands 5’ 10” and 192 lbs., Cooks measured in at 5’ 10” and 189 at the NFL Combine.
Looks can be deceiving, however. Cooks might appear to the prototypical slot receiver but has plenty of experience lining up on the perimeter of the football field.
“I was on the outside, playing the flanker, playing on the outside my whole career in college, so I saw a lot of that,” said Cooks at the Combine.
Cooks might be small, but he’s got speed to burn. Compared to Cobb coming out of college, Cooks was the faster of the two, running a 4.33 40-yard dash. Cobb ran a 4.46.
It’s speed that allowed Cooks to not only be effective from the perimeter but be downright lethal.
Opposing defensive coordinators might as well have slapped a government warning on their scouting reports when playing Oregon State: Warning: Allowing Brandin Cooks to catch the football may be hazardous to your health.
“For me, I’m a playmaker,” said Cooks. “I’m able to create plays from nothing. Be able to catch a three-yard ball, I’ll take it the distance. Those RAC yards, yards after the catch. Speed kills and I feel like that’s what I’m going to bring to the game.”
Now that James Jones has moved on in free agency, the Packers will have to decide when to add more weapons at Aaron Rodgers’ disposal in the upcoming NFL Draft. And if they decide to do so in the first round, Cooks may be the best receiver available.
Prior to the NFL Combine, opinions on Cooks and where he could be selected were mixed.
“The only reason he's not in my Top 5 is because it's such a deep wide receiver class,” said NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock back in February. “He's a heck of a football player, and I have him as my eighth-graded receiver, second-round grade and if he went at the end of round one, wouldn't surprise me at all. He can play inside at slot. He is tremendous at making people miss, tremendous run and catch. He's a guy I really like.”
After witnessing Cook’s blazing speed at the Combine first hand, Mayock has since moved Cooks up the board to his fourth-rated receiver. That 4.33-second 40 was the fastest among any wide receiver at the NFL Combine and second-fastest overall among all players, regardless of position.
After Sammy Watkins of Clemson and Mike Evans of Texas A&M are selected early in Round 1—a scenario very likely to happen—Cooks is very much in the running to become the third receiver off the board, probably somewhere around the 21st overall selection where the Packers currently sit.
Should Cooks be available, the Packers will have to give him serious consideration despite other needs on the defensive side of the football.
Here is a player that proved to be very worthy of winning the Biletnikoff Awards as the nation’s top wide receiver in 2013 after catching 128 passes for 1,730 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Cooks averaged 9.8 receptions per game during his junior season at Oregon State but also rushed for 217 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries (6.8 ypc) and has experience as a punt returner to boot.
The proven depth at wide receiver in Green Bay is lacking beyond Cobb, Jordy Nelson and Jarrett Boykin, and Cooks could arguably be an upgrade over Jones. Considering the injuries the Packers have had at the wide receiver position the past couple seasons, going after Cooks could make sense.
Some might argue that it would vw superflous to add another threat in the same mold as Cobb, but Cooks has shown to be both versatile and productive, something any team in the NFL could use.
“Numbers don’t lie,” said Cooks, “and what I bring to the game and my confidence with the way I work, my work ethic, I feel like no one is out there working harder than me. I have a lot to prove. I have a chip on my shoulder.
“They say I’m not the tallest, but I feel like there’s so many guys in this game today that are potential Hall of Famers like Steve Smith, who’s killing the game right now. DeSean Jackson. I can go down the list, and there’s (guys) under 5-10 that are definitely great receivers in this game.”
Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor of Cheesehead TV's "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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