Brandin Cooks was drafted 20th overall by the New Orleans Saints and should make an immediate impact on offense.
Saints fans rejoiced when New Orleans selected Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks in the first round – especially after the departure of Darren Sproles and Lance Moore. Cooks is a speedy receiver who can beat guys deep as well as go across the middle or do jailbreak style wide receiver screens.
Cooks (5-foot-10, 186 pounds) recorded 1,730 receiving yards on 128 receptions and 16 touchdowns last season. He had two games where he tallied more than 200 yards (Utah and Cal), and six more games where he hit the 100-yard mark. His lowest productive game came against Boise State in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, only gaining 60 yards on eight receptions.
I sat down last week and watched game film of his junior season. I can definitely see why the Saints drafted him.
I’ll start with the positives – and there are a lot of them.
Oregon State’s favorite play call for him was the previously mentioned jailbreak-type screen pass. Whether he followed his blockers or unlucky enough to not have any, his acceleration really stood out. He would hit the hole and take off or weave around to find an opening. When he did have blockers, he followed them perfectly.
On deep routes, he beat his man a lot. But there were times where the defender wouldn’t let himself get beat, so Oregon State would call 10-yard hitch routes to counter. Cooks would cut back towards the quarterback so fast, the defenders had no chance.
But let’s back up and talk about those deep routes some more.
Another huge positive for Cooks is his hands and his ability to go up and catch the ball at its highest point. He found himself double covered a lot last season – even saw a couple triple teams – so he had to go over the defenders to make catches. He also would adjust his body to make a catch around a defender.
So you think he’s just a deep threat guy? Nope. I was impressed even more with him going over the middle on quick slants or in-routes. He was able to slide right into a hole in the defense and wait for his quarterback to make an easy pass. Most of the time his quarterback wouldn’t lead him on deep passes, but when he came over the middle, and catch the ball in stride, he took off.
I did see a couple negatives though.
This mostly happened on punt returns, screen passes or a wide receiver end-around, but he danced around a lot. He would give up five, 10 yards just to gain two or three. With his speed, he’s very capable of making big plays out of those, but I didn’t see it that often. It’s going to be hard to do that in the NFL.
Another thing that I saw was when he comes over the middle and has to make a catch away from his body, not in stride, with a defender hitting him. I said above that he has great hands and can go up and catch the ball, but when the ball is chest high or lower and the ball is away from his body, he didn’t bring the ball in as much as I would think.
All in all, he’s still an exciting player who can make huge plays for this offense. The negatives aren’t really that terrible, just nit-picking.
Cooks finally joined the team at last week’s OTAs, after finishing up classes the week before. So let the Brees and Cooks connection take flight.
Camal Petro is New Orleans Saints Journalist for @Pfspot. Follow him on twitter @CamalPetro.