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Name: Brandin Cooks
Weight: 189 lbs.
School: Oregon State
Strengths: Cooks nearly beat Chris Johnson’s 40-yard dash record time at the combine, running a 4.33. Cooks isn’t just fast going in a straight line though—he shows explosiveness off the line, great ability to start and stop when
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cutting during a route and smooth action when running. He has an extra gear to escape pursuit after the catch as well and is a threat to turn a short catch into a long gain on every pass. Aside from speed, he brings great route running as well, using nice footwork and shoulder jukes to confuse defenders to gain separation. This is something you see build over his time at OSU, and a clear sign that not only will he work, he can be—and is will to be— taught. Cooks also has great hands, fantastic body control and great concentration. Cooks does an equally good job tracking the ball and adjusting to a throw. Cooks will not shy away from bigger defenders and is very competitive, though at times he will avoid contact. That may be why he was so productive (setting Pac-12 and school records for catches, receiving yards while also setting an OSU record for touchdown receptions) and missed no games while in college. That’s not to say he isn’t tough—he is, very much so—just that he will ditch out of bounds rather than lower his shoulder. At his stature, I mark that down as a plus, to be honest. Cooks can return punts, so he brings an added bonus to a team though he isn’t extraordinary at it.
Weakness: He’s a bit small, so he can be knocked around a bit on routes and may get consumed in man coverage at the NFL level. Cooks’ size and build also limit him as a blocker and he needs to improve in that area. Doesn’t have a huge catch radius due to size and arm-length (just 30 ¾ while the similarly sized Odell Beckham has 32 ¾ length arms). His hand size is also a concern, as they are on the small size (9 5/8) and he has had some issues securing the ball with them. At his size, there are bound to be durability concerns, despite the fact that he has always been healthy in his college career.
Intangibles: The one thing you hear about Cooks over and over again is how tough and competitive he is. At his
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size, he’d need to be to have the measure of success he’s had. As mentioned in an earlier section, Cooks improved his technique going into and coming out of breaks, as well as running his routes in general. That willingness and ability to improve is a big deal and shows he is coachable, something teams like to see.
Notes: The only thing which could hold Cooks back is that size. He’s got natural ability and athleticism and is dangerous after the catch, but he has to prove he can hold up physically at the pro level where defenders are bigger, faster and nastier. I’m not terribly concerned, and don’t think a wise team will use him in a role where he is going to take a pounding. His size does make him much more of a complimentary receiver though, rather than a No. 1, as he could struggle to get off a No. 1 cornerback and get free. Then again, there are plenty of teams who get by without a “classic” No.1. Cooks would be a great addition to any of the teams in the draft in need of a playmaking wide receiver.