Summary: Over the past two seasons, Cooks was one of the best wide receivers in the Pac-12 and the nation. Last fall, WalterFootball.com spoke with Falcons cornerback Desmond Trufant, who said that Cooks was one of the most difficult receivers he had to cover in college. That was during Cooks’ freshman and sophomore seasons when he played against Trufant, but Cooks was at his best as a junior.
In 2011 as a freshman, Cooks had 31 receptions for 391 yards and three touchdowns. He improved thos numbers in 2012 with 67 catches for 1,151 yards with five scores.
As a junior, Cooks took his game to another level as he and quarterback Sean Mannion lit up defenses throughout the season. Cooks hauled in 128 catches for 1,730 yards and 16 touchdowns. Cooks had a number of massive games in 2013, including performances against: Eastern Washington (13-196), Utah (9-210), San Diego State (14-141), Colorado (9-168) and Cal (13-232). Against Oregon, Cooks had 10 receptions for 110 yards, but had some issues getting separation from cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu.
Cooks led the nation in receiving yards for the year and was second to Fresno State’s Davante Adams in receptions and touchdowns. At the Combine, Cooks ran a blistering 40 time of 4.33 seconds with a tremendous 10-yard split of 1.5 seconds.
In the NFL, Cooks should be a valuable weapon. He is a mismatch problem as a slot receiver who can stretch a defense vertically. Cooks is very fast running downfield and is a threat to burn cornerbacks over the top. He also is a good route-runner who has excellent hands. Cooks is short, but put together well. He is a tough receiver who battles defenders.
Even though Cooks is undersized, he can operate in the short and intermediate part of the field. Cooks gets separation on short routes and is a nice weapon on third downs. His slot-receiver capabilities could turn him into one of the better slot wide outs in the league.
Cooks’ game should translate immediately to the NFL. He is a plug-and-play pick as a slot receiver. With his speed and play-making ability, Cooks could be a late first-round or early second-round pick.
Player Comparison: DeSean Jackson. Cooks is similar to the Eagles speedy weapon. Both are fast play-makers who can stretch a defense. Jackson (5-10, 175) was a second-round pick out of California in 2008. Cooks could go earlier, possibly as high as the end of the first round.
NFL Matches: Kansas City, Cleveland, New Orleans, Carolina, Denver, Seattle, Washington
Cooks has a lot of landing spots late in the first round or early in the second round. There are a number of teams picking in the 20s that could select Cooks. The Chiefs could target a receiver at No. 23, and Cooks would fill the DeSean Jackson role in Andy Reid’s offense.
A few picks later, Cooks could get consideration by the Browns as they seek to improve their offense. If Cleveland takes a quarterback with its first pick, Cooks could be an option with pick No. 26.
In the NFC South, Carolina has a massive need at wide receiver, and Cooks could be a good replacement for Steve Smith. The Panthers are locked into drafting a wide receiver early. New Orleans also could consider a wide out. The Saints lost some weapons this offseason in Darren Sproles and Lance Moore. The team has some older veterans at receiver, and Cooks would give New Orleans some play-making youth.
Denver doesn’t have a real need at receiver, but Cooks could be the best player available. Wes Welker is only a short-term player, and Cooks could be drafted to be his replacement in a year.
Seattle lost Golden Tate in free agency, but the Seahawks would probably prefer drafting a receiver with size.
If Cooks falls to the second round, he could be selected by the Redskins at pick No. 34. They signed Andre Roberts, but could still use more weapons for Robert Griffin III.
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