Considered one of the best “catch and run” type of receivers in the 2014 draft, Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks is earning the reputation as being one of the more dynamic playmakers.
At 5-foot-10 and 186 pounds, Cooks is shifty and has a proven ability to free himself from defenders and is explosive both before and after the catch. The reigning Biletnikoff Award Winner is a polished route-runner because of his quick feet and his ability to change directions in a flash, and he has tremendous ball awareness and hands. That translated to 128 receptions for 1,730 yards and 16 touchdowns his junior season.
Off the field, Cooks has never missed a game … at any level. He also doubles as an offensive weapon — much like a Tavon Austin or Percy Harvin — evident by his effectiveness out of the backfield. He can contribute on special teams as a return man, averaging six yards per punt return for the Beavers last year.
Scouts compare Cooks to New York Giants standout Victor Cruz, who has proven to be a playmaker out of the slot, a position where Cooks could slide into and thrive. But Cooks can also be split out wide and has drawn parallels to Carolina Panthers wideout Steve Smith based on size and skill-set.
Obviously, Cooks’ size is a bit of a concern, but smaller wideouts like Smith or Wes Welker have proven that height does not preclude a receiver from having a major impact in the NFL. Because of his size, he struggled at times with physical defensive backs and a lot of contact at the line of scrimmage.
As we’ve mentioned before in our XN Sports 2014 NFL Draft profiles, beyond Clemson’s Sammy Watkins and Southern Cal’s Marqise Lee, the Nos. 3-10 wide receivers are all but a crapshoot, with fit being the major factor in where and when these players come off the board. Cooks fits right into that mold.
Cooks is ranked No. 25 overall and the No. 4 wideout by Rotoworld and No. 38 overall and No. 7 wideout by CBS Sports. Both rankings consider him to be taken off the board sometime in the first two rounds.
There are three likely landing spots for Cooks in the first round, beginning with the New Orleans Saints at No. 27. New Orleans has young wideouts in Kenny Stills and Nick Tooms, but you can never provide Drew Brees with too many weapons. Lance Moore is candidate for release, while Marques Colston, 30, had his worst season since 2008.
If the Saints don’t bite on Cooks, perhaps NFC South rival Carolina will. Cooks has been likened to Smith, so drafting him at No. 28 would allow him to learn under the vet. Cam Newton is in desperate need of more playmakers in the receiving games, and his current best option, Smith, is 34.
Should Cooks slide down to No. 30, he could be an option for the San Francisco 49ers. The Niners could add Cooks to a receiving corps that includes Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis, giving Colin Kaepernick the most weapons he has had as a starter. Cooks would also be an improvement to the Niners’ special teams unit.