Brandin Cooks, the former Oregon State wide receiver, has shot up draft boards across the NFL with his phenomenal combine and pro-day performance.
With the 18th pick of the NFL Draft, the New York Jets are expected to pick an offensive weapon to help surround their quarterback with talented players- something they have not done well in the past. Could John Idzik and the Jets select Brandin Cooks with their first round pick?
Brandin Cooks is relatively small for a wide receiver, measuring in at 5’10” and 189 pounds. However, what Cooks lacks in size he more than makes up for in talent.
Although many people may overlook Cooks because of his size, there is no denying his phenomenal success at Oregon State. This year, the speedy receiver won the Biletnikoff Award, which is given to the nation’s most outstanding college receiver. Cooks joins some great company, as previous winners include Randy Moss, Larry Fitzgerald, Calvin Johnson, Michael Crabtree, Golden Tate, and more. If history repeats itself, Cooks is on track for a great NFL career.
Brandin Cooks’ Strengths
The first, most obvious strong suit of Cooks’ game is his incredible speed. The former Badger beat out all wide receivers at the combine with a 4.33 and a 3.81 shuttle run. His explosive speed will cause a major problem for opposing defenses, causing them to either respect the deep ball and be vulnerable to short passes or allow Brandin Cooks to beat them deep.
Cooks is also a very gifted athlete in the open field. Whether it’s after a nice catch down the middle, after a screen pass, or during a punt return, Brandin Cooks is always a threat to break loose from the open field.
To go along with his ridiculous speed and elusiveness, Brandin Cooks has an incredible ability to make plays on the ball, and is more than capable of adjusting tot and hauling in an inaccurate pass. Cooks received a decent amount of poorly thrown balls from teammate Sean Mannion at Oregon State, and yet he was consistently able to make a play on the ball and catch it for a nice gain.
Brandin Cooks has also proven his ability to perform well against high-quality defenders. Inside the PAC-12, Cooks was pitted against top cornerbacks Ifo Ekpre-Olomu from Oregon and Marcus Peters from Washington, who made 1st and 2nd team All PAC-12 respectively. Against these top corners, Cooks totaled 227 receiving yards on 20 receptions, along with one touchdown reception. Against Utah’s Keith McGill, who is a projected 3rd round pick (and is also 5 inches taller and approximately 25 pounds bigger), Brandin Cooks recorded 9 catches for a whopping 210 yards and 3 touchdowns. Cooks has proven he can play with some of the better corners at a collegiate level, and we’ll have to see how that translates to the pros.
Brandin Cooks’ Weaknesses
However, despite all these positive traits there is no denying that there are some cons to drafting Brandin Cooks. For starters, he will have a difficult time getting away with his sub-par size and strength at the professional level, despite his success at Oregon State. If the Jets draft Cooks he would face Brandon Browner (NE) and Cortland Finnegan (MIA) twice a year, two very physical and aggressive corners. Against these type of aggressive corners in man to man coverage, Cooks may struggle at the line.
Cooks is also vulnerable to fumbling the football and the occasional drop. Although Cooks’ hands are relatively consistent for the most part, he occasionally loses the ball during the process of securing it. Fortunately, unlike his size this is a flaw that can be fixed with the certain amount of practice.
Another weakness of his is his inadequate blocking ability, which may cause some problems if the Jets want to execute some runs/screens to the outside. At Oregon State, we saw time and time again that Cooks’ was incapable of producing an effective block on the opposing defender.
In the NFL, Brandin Cooks compares to a much more durable Percy Harvin. Approximately the same size, Cooks shares the same speed and agility as Percy Harvin, and although he may not be as versatile he is certainly less of an injury concern, never missing a game at any level.
Potential New York Jet?
Brandin Cooks certainly has the potential to be drafted by the New York Jets. Obviously, the Jets are in desperate need of an offensive weapon, and the possibility of both TE Eric Ebron and WR Marquise Lee being drafted before the Jets’ pick makes Cooks a much more intriguing prospect.
Cooks would probably be expected to play receiver on the outside opposite Eric Decker for the majority of the time. Although his size may be an issue, Cooks should be able to increase is level of physicality, allowing him to break away from stronger defenders. If necessary, Brandin Cooks could play out of the slot and easily burn a safety or a linebacker in coverage.
Also, the Oregon State alum’s elite speed will force defenses to respect the deep ball, allowing receivers like Eric Decker or Jeremy Kerley to find open spaces beneath the coverage. Brandin’s ability to adjust to adjust to the football will certainly be beneficial when Geno Smith/Michael Vick misses the target slightly, which is bound to happen with either of the two quarterbacks.
Brandin Cooks certainly has the ability to succeed at a professional level, and could potentially bring his talents to East Rutherford if the New York Jets choose to take him in the 18th slot.