Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
Every year, the Biletnikoff Award is given to the best wide receiver in college football. While Sammy Watkins, Marqise Lee, Mike Evans, Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham Jr. and Jordan Matthews are outstanding players, they did not win the coveted award in 2013. Instead, it was given to a receiver named Brandin Cooks.
Brandin Cooks has established himself as one of the premier receivers in the 2014 NFL Draft. Last year, he dominated the PAC-12 racking up a ridiculous 1,730 yards and 16 touchdowns. In 2012, Cooks caught 67 passes for 1,151 yards and five touchdowns. That is simply unheard of in the PAC-12 which is one of the most competitive conferences in college football. But receivers are not scouted on stats alone; size, athleticism, ball skills and work ethic are also taken into account.
Listed at 5'10", 189 lbs, Brandin Cooks is extremely undersized for a wide receiver. His frame will make it difficult for him to win jump balls against larger cornerbacks. Unlike Mike Evans or Kelvin Benjamin, he is not a nightmare match-up. Cooks lacks muscle making him more susceptible to injury. Because of his size, he struggles in man-coverage and against physical defenders.
But that should not refrain him from becoming a number one receiver. Steve Smith is only 5'6", 185 lbs and has had tremendous success in the NFL. Being small is a trade-off. While larger receivers can win jump balls and use their frame to overpower cornerbacks, they often accelerate very slowly. But smaller receivers generally are much quicker and agile. Cook's size would provide a tremendous advantage if he is placed in the slot.
This is the category where Cooks separates himself from the competition. At the NFL Scouting Combine, Cooks ran a 4.33 40-yard dash which was the second fastest time among all players. He finished first in both the 20 yard and 60 yard shuttle. But on the field, Cooks is even more impressive.
The First-Team All-American shows great burst coming out of his breaks allowing him to run crisp routes. He is most dangerous in the red zone as many defenders do not possess his quickness. Like Steve Smith, his elite speed makes him a dangerous deep-threat.
In space, Brandin Cooks is the hardest player to tackle in the 2014 NFL Draft (even over Sammy Watkins). His fluid hips and vision make him electric after the catch. Cook's speed and agility also make an elite returner.
Brandin Cooks excels at catching the football. On jump balls, he always high points the ball which gives him a chance to catch 50/50 balls even though he is small. Cooks catches with his hands, not his body. He eyes the ball into his hands which will limit drops.
One of the hardest aspects of a player to grade is their heart. How bad do they want to improve? I personally do not know Brandin Cooks so it is impossible for me to judge his work ethic. But what I can provide is quotes from his coaches.
"He has a great ability to stay focused and he'll be driven to get better -- he won't be distracted by the bling of the NFL," said Oregon State Head Coach Mike Riley in a recent interview. "Brandin's always been a really fun, talented, hard-working kid."
Oregon State Receiver Coach Brent Brennan said of Cook, "It's gotten to the point where he gets mad if I turn on film from his freshman year, because he was so bad he gets embarrassed."
Player Comparison: Steve Smith
For more Brandin Cooks game film, visit his player profile at draftbreakdown.com