Draft Daily: Oregon St. WR Cooks a Perfect Fit?

NCAA Football: Washington at Oregon State

Scan a sampling of mock drafts online, and the one name you’ll see mentioned time and again as a possible replacement for DeSean Jackson is Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks.

Reasons for the comparison are obvious. Cooks is 5-10, 189 and ran a 4.33 at the combine. Jackson is listed at 5-10, 175 and ran a 4.35 coming out of Cal.

Here’s how Cooks tested in Indy:

His 40-time was the third fastest among all wide receivers in the last five years. In addition to the straight-line speed, you can see Cooks has short-area quickness as well.

And then there’s the production. Cooks had 128 catches for 1,730 yards and 16 touchdowns last season. He averaged 133.1 yards receiving per game (tops in the nation) and 9.8 receptions (second). In 2012, Cooks caught 67 balls for 1,151 yards and five scores.

After having watched Cooks’ performance from 2013, I came away thinking he’s a player Chip Kelly will target. But I also don’t think he’s a DeSean Jackson clone. There are similarities, but Cooks is not yet the vertical threat Jackson is. On the other hand, he showed a more well-rounded skill set than I anticipated.

Let’s start with what Cooks does best: make plays with the ball in his hands. Remember the Donnie Avery screen the Chiefs killed the Eagles with last year? That was a go-to play for Oregon State last year, and Cooks was born to run it.

Cooks shows great patience, breaks a tackle and then takes off towards the sideline, leaving defenders in the dust for a touchdown.

Whichever team drafts Cooks needs to run this play multiple times per game.

Overall, though, Cooks was effective on a number of different routes. Per Rotoworld, 26.23 percent of his catches came on screens, but 13.1 percent came on throws 20+ yards downfield. And his average catch came 8.4 yards from the line of scrimmage. Again, he did a lot more than run go-routes down the sideline.

From writer Greg Peshek:

You can’t get more average in terms of receptions than Brandin Cooks. Aside from some slight variation, Cooks has a strong distribution across all the zones showing that he isn’t a one trick pony.

Cooks’ ball skills impressed me. He is aggressive on 50/50 balls. There are always going to be limitations because of his size, but in college at least, he did a good job adjusting on balls and making plays.

Here against Cal, he does a great job of avoiding contact at the line of scrimmage and runs the 9-route upfield.

Great job of looking back and attacking the football in the air.

He was also productive in the red zone. Cooks had 22 red-zone catches and 10 red-zone touchdowns in 13 games.

Check out this play against Stanford:

Cooks runs the slant and makes the grab at the 4. But he gets down low, fights through contact and gets in the end zone for the score.

We know Kelly is big on versatility. Cooks lined up outside most of the time in the games I watched. But there’s no doubt he could be an effective slot receiver in the NFL. In fact, some like Matt Bowen believe Cooks might be most effective inside. There is nothing soft about how Cooks plays. Many will point to his height/weight measurables, and certainly that needs to be taken into account. But he caught plenty of balls inside the numbers in college.

His bread and butter in the NFL will be yards after the catch. Interestingly enough, his numbers in that area last year were pedestrian. Cooks averaged just 5.24 yards after the catch, according to Rotoworld. But part of that was because 38.89 percent of his catches came on comeback routes. In 2012, Cooks would have led all draftable WRs in YAC.

And watching plays like this, there’s little doubt about his ability to make defenders look foolish when the ball’s in his hands:

Another example vs. Oregon:

Cooks had 217 yards and two touchdowns on run plays last year. He also has experience as a return man.

As for hands, Cooks only dropped 4.69 percent of his catchable passes, per Rotoworld. The average was between 6 and 7 percent.

There really is a lot to like here. Cooks is versatile, has outstanding hands and possesses game-breaking speed. If he were two inches taller, he’d likely be getting mentions as a top-10 or top-15 pick.

Kelly will have to determine how much size matters at wide receiver, given the current construction of the roster. It’s worth noting that the Eagles had a 5-10 receiver catch 82 balls for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns last season. In other words, the whole “big people” thing probably applies more to the defense.

The guess here is that the Eagles will have Cooks rated highly on their board. If available at No. 22, he’s a realistic possibility.

Note: Some have asked me to compare players. Once I get through all the individual write-ups for first- and second-round possibilities, I’ll rank them in terms of fit for the Eagles.

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  • mike5832

    cooks is hands down my favorite player in this draft…I pray chip and the eagles take him if he drops to 22. great write up sir.

    • George

      I like him, but im not getting my hopes up for cooks. I think chip wants big players all over the field, on both sides. I hope he makes an exception for cooks, but I kinda doubt it

      • jabostick

        I think of it more as Chip wants mismatches all over the field (not just bigs). Cooks could help create that.

        • Eagles1018

          Heck yes. Thank you for that assessment. Mismatches is the key. If you have a guy like Cooks that 4.3 speed and has a route tree that shows he can basically do everything why not? I don’t think Chip was unhappy with our former WRs production at all

      • Scott J

        Sproles is small. So far Chip has been very unpredictable. Nothing would surprise me anymore.

      • Maggie

        Chip also had to have a “mobile” QB too, didn’t he? Then there is Sproles. Perhaps creating mismatches isn’t only about size? Perhaps ‘versatility’ isn’t only about size. Never going to have perfection at every position anyway, so maybe creating confusion in the other teams’ minds is even more important.

  • cliff henny

    if you want a short, fast slot RAC guy, Campanaro is darn near same measurable and a 6th/7th.


    • Chris

      reminds me of Amendola

      • cliff henny

        cant believe Reid cut him, still bothers me. love those middle of field, 3rd down catch short of 1st down get rest on own guys. if want little more athleticism can go Herron or Ellington earlier in draft.

    • Breakerdog

      I like these over achiever type guys as much as the next guy. Another one in the same mold is Bruce Ellington who will go a little higher because he is a little more physical and played in the SEC.

      The problem with these guys is match ups. They are slot receivers who excel in finding hole in zone coverage. As long as Shady lines up in the backfield and they spread to run under Chip Kelly, the Eagles will face man. These kind of guys can’t match up with LBs or beat nickel CBs. This is why Chip loves the TEs. You either get a LB in coverage or a nickel CB playing run defense. Pick your poison.

      Another angle to take here would be to try to pick up one of these guys and tie him to Darren Sproles. Attempt to build yourself another of these rare type of pass catching RB weapons. It might be more trouble than its worth. There is a ready made version of this that will go in the lower rounds.
      D’Anthony Thomas

      • cliff henny

        DAT or Dri Archor. doesn’t matter to me, I just so many weapons, 3/4 deep at TE and RB and 4 or 5 deep at WRs all doing different things at a high level that week to week defenses have no answers and really little clue as to what Kelly’s going to roll out.

  • eaglefansocal

    This guy will be very good his 1st year and better than Jackson by year 2. Get a pass rusher/corner/safety in 2nd round and a big receiver in the 4th thru 6th rounds. Only if Barr falls down close to Eagles pick would I pick defense at 22.

  • JofreyRice

    Reminds me more of a + version of Tavon Austin than Desean Jackson.

    • true, but I think Cooks is a more polished WR, whereas Tavon was/is one of the best TAZR type guys in the game

      • JofreyRice

        agreed, that’s why I called him a + version. Not sure I know what TAZR is, exactly, but Tavon really didn’t “wow” me in any major way, as a pro. Great college player….

        Speaks to the talent and depth of this class that I don’t want a guy at #22 that is a better version of the guy that went #8 last year.

        • curious if having a year in the nfl, and bradford back, makes a difference. They need OL first 2 picks, I think they could make some noise this year. Good RB and DEF

  • ceedubya9

    Dude is good, no doubt. A WR with size is great, but talent is talent. They can still get a bigger guy later if they want. Cooks early, and then maybe Street or Shaq
    Evans in a later round could be a good option. Of course, if Mike Evans or a top OLB falls, then all bets are off.

    • cliff henny

      here’s the thing with this draft, there’s about 10-12 guys with both, talent and size. i’d love a slot/RAC, get one just like my hated Giant in recent memory Victor Cruz(that 3rd and 7 catch at 5yds get 3 on own and drives everyone nuts guy). but you can get Bruce Ellington in 3rd/4th, RObert Herron 4th or Campanaro in 6th, all very similar size and physical stats to Cooks.

      • peteike

        you need to remind everyone hes a one year wonder haha, we just had this conversation. Seems like a bunch of posters like me, impressed by the highlight reel

        • cliff henny

          one year wonder might be little more than I was going for, cause the talent was always there, but for ’11 and ’12, coaches were always on him about getting into gym and his dedication to game was questioned. now, looking at him there’s simply no doubt he did visit the weights. where not having access to interviews hinders us, cause no way of knowing if it’s permanent change in lifestyle/kid growing up or if he sucked it up for 1 yr to get drafted high.

          • peteike

            right, brings up character questions it sounds like which is near impossible for fans to quantify.

      • sorry Cliff, but I don’t agree, not one of those guys is the WR that Cooks is when looking at play/production and not just a spider graph. There’s a reason he’s a 1st rounder. The kid, to me, is a stud. If it wasn’t for Joyner, he’d probably be my favorite prospect. Torn between him and ODB to the birds in the 1st

  • Breakerdog

    Not much difference in ability between ODB, Lee and Cooks at that second tier of WR. Benjamin is below these 3 IMHO.
    If they get anyone of these three I would be happy. I still don’t think I take WR at 22.

  • Chris

    Speed? Check.
    Versatile? Check.
    Familiarity with Chip? Check.
    Good hands? Check.

    I’d love this pick, exciting kid. I feel like he’d start in the slot week 1 if drafted.

    • All In Eagles

      Does anyone else think we need to go CB or S at 22? I know it’s hard to stop drooling over a few of these WRs but maybe better to secure that CB or S at this point.

      • Warhound

        Some people do…..I lean to OLB but expect a trade back…

      • Chris

        don’t think it’s a bad idea, if that’s what the board says. Im trusting Chip on this one. I’m sure if he has a higher rated defensive player there, i’d hope they pull the trigger

  • botto

    we have to get this guy. he is a playmaker. we need that.

  • Nick C

    Would be ecstatic with cooks

  • stnickfoles

    Dude would be awesome to play with in Madden. Especially with Sproles on the same team

  • janvanflac

    Unless someone like Barr or maybe HaHa falls to #22 (unlikely) I would be very happy if they take him. I doubt they would be put off by his height, the guy is a clearly a player, as much of a can’t miss pick as there can be.

  • jabostick

    This dude looks awesome. I know people throw out other players with similar measurables that could be had later, but what stands out to me is the ridiculous production. I’d be super happy if we got Cooks.

    Let Cooper, Celek and Ertz be your big receivers. Cooks just looks like a player.

    • JM Earwood

      Maybe it’s just from seeing what we did last year, and I’m sure there’s more that goes into it than this, but doesn’t it just feel that with this guy’s skill set, you could plug him into our starting lineup and achieve at least similar results to what we did last year?

      I guess I keep going back to you can’t teach speed, and I have belief in our coaching staff to coach up the non-speed aspects of this guy’s game. Based on the hype though, I have serious doubts of whether he will make it to #22.

  • Eagles1018

    Excellent write up. His route tree is diverse which means he’s not predictable. He can go over the middle and he doesn’t seem scared of putting his head down and driving for extra yards (ie. the touchdown in the red zone). Not sure about how effective a blocker he is but I’m sure we didn’t get incredible blocking from OL’ what’s his name and we lead the league in rushing. To have a longer term weapon with Maclin on a 1 year deal, Sproles coming in already in his 30s and Cooper being more of a compliment than “the guy” I’d say Cooks is a great choice if he’s there. Of course you take Barr if he’s available but we all know he’ll be long gone at 22.

  • Javi Echie

    To me he reminds me more of Steve Smith then DJax just because of his route running versatility and the way he runs with the ball in his hands. I’m still 100% on board with this pick if the Eagles take him.

    • Ark87

      Exactly right. Jackson had special speed, but he wasn’t explosive when it came to change of direction, so a lot of his routes were run a bit soft. Go’s, slants, posts, corners: awesome. Ins, outs, comeback routes, double moves: eh. He could do it, but wasn’t as good as you might expect someone of his size.

      Cooks is definitely more explosive. Similar to Steve Smith. To me he’s a more refined Tavon Austin. Just a better receiver. (nit-picky, I just try to avoid comparing any prospect to a potential hall of famer)

      • Javi Echie

        Yea man I can only imagine the damage he could do in Chip’s offense would be crazy. I know Chip has measurables for what he wants in players but he has to seriously consider Cooks.

  • jt521

    I like the idea of getting a tall, strong WR but Cooks could be incredible in this offense. Looking at what CK got out of Foles, DJ, Ertz, and Shady can you imagine what Cooks would look like on this team??? WANT him in Eagles green.

  • Tom W

    Finished up a rough 2014 eagles-specific draft board … everyone will have differing opinions on player grades so that I don’t really care about. Couple tweeks to go. Tried to exclude players who don’t fit Chip’s size/speed/length for certain positions based on last two years of intel and time at oregon recruiting. eg. an undersized dtackle, midget olb, fat unathletic ol, etc. included most players we interviewed or worked out or visited that match. stayed away from most small school prospects unless intel said otherwise.

    • Chris

      good stuff

    • Jernst

      Nice work!

    • the r

      perfect except cooks over odb

    • AFungusAmongUs

      You left out Dennard

      • Tom W

        Wasn’t by accident. Did so bc of his height arm length and speed Think he is overrated and going to drop into second rd

  • Scott J

    The problem I think Chip would have with Cooks is his blocking. We know how much Chip likes his receivers to block downfield. I can’t see Cooks blocking Sherman.

    • anon

      or catching a ball against him.

  • botto

    cook just seems like he is not only very skilled but extremely tough. i think he woudl make this offense so scary. way better the djax.
    but he will get scoope dby the jets before we get him

  • Jernst

    I would love it if we drafted Cooks, but I’m getting the feeling that Chip desires size at WR and Cooks is not going to be our guy.

  • Will

    Really like the guy, but I hope we go D with our first and grab Robinson in the 2nd. Maybe take Dri Archer in the 4/5th and use him as a Returner, Slot Receiver and running back. What do you guys think?

    • baxter322

      Agree on all counts. Even better would be trading back to pick up some extra picks, then taking best available defender,(i’d target Van Noy) Robinson, Latimer or Matthews in the 2nd and a smaller, versatile speedster like Archer, Herron or Ellington w/ a mid round pick. John Brown of Pittsburg State(correct spelling) is another name to consider- similar size/speed as Cooks and dominated small school opponents. All four are deadly after the catch and could be dangerous on those quick WR screens. Trading down gives us the flexibility to draft that 2nd offensive weapon, while still addressing our many needs on defense.

      • Will

        Maybe the Niners will jump to that 22nd spot on draft day :). Really wish we would have gotten that 3rd for DJax.

    • korman

      If there’s a guarantee that Robinson is there at 54 then I’m right there with you.

  • HowieGambleChipsAllDay

    BPA No Trade Backs

    Your Picks:
    Round 1 Pick 22: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State (A)
    Round 2 Pick 22: DaQuan Jones, DT, Penn State (B)
    Round 3 Pick 22: Keith McGill, CB, Utah (B+)
    Round 4 Pick 22: Christian Jones, ILB, Florida State (A-)
    Round 5 Pick 22: Ronald Powell, OLB, Florida (A)
    Round 7 Pick 22: Cody Hoffman, WR, Brigham Young (C+)

    I’d do a bank flip for this Draft. Some may not like Jones in the 2nd, I do. I’d also swap Christian Jones for Khairi Forte.

  • Anonymous

    I want Cooks at no.22, but I think the Jets will take him at 18. Unless Ebron falls to 18, of course, but that’s kinda unlikely.

  • dislikedisqus

    It must be noted that Kelly triple-teamed Cooks the last tine they faced each other. Actions speak louder than words.

  • Glenn

    This is the man the Eagles should be targeting! Trust me. He is the one. Not Lee. Not Benjamin. Not Beckham. Would not be surprised at all if he ends up being the best WR in the draft. If this guy is gone, it will be a shame!

  • The R

    Cooks should be the eagles top priority if he makes it too 22. just look at the video


  • Jerry Pomroy

    I wish the kid was 2″ taller and 10lbs heavier. Unfortunately he’s not getting any taller. I do see him as a possible fit. Just not someone I’d personally get overly excited over. I like him, I just like other guys more (ie; Mathews). I do prefer him, Lee & ODB over Benjamin. Maybe it’s just me but I see a ceiling of Plaxico Buress for Benjamin and that’s if he’s motivated. Plax was a compliment player and that’s exactly what I see Benjamin being & that’s not worth a 1st rd pick in my eyes. Very unimpressive player. I don’t care if he snatched the championship winning TD out of the air. He just doesn’t pass the eye test.