Brandin Cooks is 5'10, 189 pounds, and if not for Mike Evans, he'd be the "biggest" receiver in the draft. That sounds incredibly stupid, right? Well, when you watch Cooks play, it really isn't far-fetched, at all. Cooks is one of those guys that is easy to root for based solely on the fact that he's just so damn fun to watch play.
By now, you know how important route running is in my eyes. The thing I love about Cooks is his creativity as a route runner. He's probably faster than anyone guarding him, but he understands how to get open at the top of his route, and he's brilliant doing so.
In this example, he's running a simple 5 yard in, at the top of his route, he gives the cornerback a little "Welker stutter & head fake."
If the ball is out in front of him, it's a huge play, but nonetheless, he freezes the cornerback at the top of the route without tipping where he's going. These small things translate in a big way.
Here, he's running a go route, he knows where he's going the entire time, but gives the cornerback a subtle jab step inside, helping him create separation.
This is a double whammy. He not only creates separation with his route running skills, but does so with his speed as well.
Cooks isn't limited in his route tree, at all. He's one of the few receivers that doesn't take a false step off the line of scrimmage. He transitions smoothly in and out of his breaks, but also explodes out of them as well. He can create separation with his route running ability, not just his athleticism. He's a very savvy route runner with incredibly quick feet.
Speed. You know, the trait that you can't coach. Speed kills and everyone knows it. This last offseason Cooks put on 11 pounds of muscle and you could certainly tell in his game. He's shown this year that he can take the top off of the defense. His ability to get to top end speed in a matter of steps is impressive. He blew up the combine, and that might be an understatement. He ran an official 4.30 40 yard dash, a 3.81 short shuttle(which is one of the fastest ever recorded at the combine), and in the 60 yard shuttle, he ran a 10.72, which is the fastest time on NFL.com's database.
He can run.
Just look at the above GIF and the angles he breaks. He plays just as fast as he runs, which certainly doesn't translate for a lot of receivers.
Watching Cooks, you're surprised to see him drop a ball. I remember him dropping an in route and I was stunned. That's because, for the most part, when he gets his hands on it, he catches it. He has surprisingly strong hands, which is another reason I believe he'll be successful at the next level. Per Second Round Stats, a receivers drop rate should be no higher than 7%. Cooks has by far the lowest drop rate, at 4.1%.
For a receiver who is 5'10, Cooks tracks the ball well, high points it, and wins the catch point insanely well. He's very good at adjusting to under-thrown balls and putting himself in a position to make a play.
Sometimes a receiver is asked to bail is quarterback out. Cooks does this over and over. He has some of the best ball skills in the class.
With the importance of getting the ball out of the quarterbacks hands quicker in today's NFL, receivers must be able to create for themselves once they've caught the ball. Cooks is incredibly explosive and does most of his work in the intermediate game. Over 70% of his routes were ran under 15 yards. Once the ball is in his hands, he's special.
It's rare the 1st player tackles Cooks.
The next is a punt return, but shows off Cooks skills in the open field.
Understand the next GIF Cooks stepped out of bounds. Also, understand he made 6 people miss.
|Multiple Pro Bowl Player, Top 10||8.5 – 9.0|
|Highly Productive Starter, 1st Round||8.0 – 8.4|
|Very Good Starter, Early 2nd Round||7.8 – 7.9|
|Reliable Starter, 2nd Round||7.5 – 7.7|
|Potential Starter in Year 2, 3rd Round||7.0 – 7.4|
|Backup/Spot Starter, 4th Round||6.5 – 6.9|
|Productive Backup, 5th Round||6.0 – 6.4|
|Very Good Backup/STs, 6th Round||5.5 – 5.9|
|Quality Backup/Good STs, 7th Round||5.0 – 5.4|
|Backup/STs/Project Player, 7th Round||4.5 – 4.9|
|Priority Free Agent w/ Limitations||4.0 – 4.4|
Cooks grades out to an 8.21. That tells you how high on him I am. He's the third highest graded receiver I've watched this year. I think he's far from limited to a slot receiver, considering the way he attacks the ball in the air. With him being comfortable with the entire route tree, and his creativeness as a route runner, he should have an easy transition to the next level and be a 90 catch type player in no time.
How He Fits With the Chargers
Like the Beckham and Lee, Cooks adds a speed dimension the Chargers just don't have, and haven't really had that I can remember. Cooks is probably the fastest player at his position, so the Chargers offensive staff could get creative and find ways to get him the ball. He's an ideal fit in that he wins early in his routes, and can work over the middle of the field. His YAC ability is exactly what the Chargers need, and in 1-on-1 opportunities, the odds Cooks wins are high. Before the Combine I would've said Cooks might be there at the Chargers second round pick, after a great combine, it's not looking that way anymore.