Probably the most daunting task for rookie quarterbacks and the rush of new information and terminology. Connor Cook is experiencing that process right now, just two weeks removed from finding out where he which organization he would be playing for after the Raiders chose him with the 100th overall pick in the draft.
Basically everything is new. Cook must acclimate to a new system, coaching staff, teammates, and level of play. So, as you might expect, things didn't go swimmingly on his first day of rookie minicamp. One series in particular, he threw a short screen pass into the turf and then sailed a ball too high for the tight end over the middle. Expected bumps in the road which has just begun.
"You know, it's a little difficult. Everyone has to adjust," said Cook. "There were some throws out there, like the one screen that I got rushed, if I give just a little more flick of the wrist, I can maybe get it there. Another play that I just wasn't familiar with, with the footwork. I took a three-step [drop] instead of a five-step, was waiting on my guy to be open and ended up sailing it. It's good to get out here. Usually if I was in college, I would have already gone through spring ball, so this is the longest that I've gone without going up against a defense and seeing live action, especially at that kind of speed. Everyone is shaking off the rust a little bit, but it just feels good to be back out there."
No one is going to fault Cook for a rough couple passes or hold his feet to the fire. These are things every player has to go through, especially quarterbacks. If he's still doing it midway through training camp in August, then we could be concerned.
For no it's about soaking in the immense amount of information the coaches are feeding him and applying it to the field. Thus far his head coach has liked what he's seen.
"I think he's been outstanding," Jack Del Rio said of his rookie quarterback. "He comes in, had a tremendous career and is very humble. Obviously he is intelligent. He asks good questions. He's got arm talent. It's a matter of getting familiar of what we do and how we do it. Great start for his first week of being here. Having him throughout the week in meetings and then today getting a lit bit of work with some of the younger guys that are here with us this weekend, I think he's off to a great start."
Helping Cook with the transition is the pro style offense in which he played at Michigan State. It's made a week that should be stressful for him "actually been pretty laid back" in his view. Not words you usually hear associated with this time period.
"I think I can pick up on some things pretty quickly," Cook continued. "The concepts that we run here are pretty similar to the concepts that we ran at Michigan State. Just a different language. . . Just certain words are mixed up a little bit but other than that I've been picking it up pretty well."
Also helping Cook's transition in rookie camp is Garrett Gilbert's participation. He's a first year player which makes him eligible to participate in the rookie minicamp, but he has been with the team since early Januray, giving him over four months to familiarize himself with the system, staff, and organization.
Saturday was day two of the three day minicamp, though there is no media access to the practice. Come Sunday, the camp will be over and the next time Cook and his fellow rookies will take the field will be May 24 along with their new veteran teammates, most of whom are familiar with each other and know the system well after playing in it for the past year. He will hope to have worked out the kinks by then.
"Great thing about Connor is he's very bright," said Del Rio. "He gets it, it makes sense to him, and that's a great place to start."