Long described as a physical freak at the tight end position, Jared Cook has been surprisingly underwhelming throughout his career. In eight seasons, Cook has just 303 receptions for 3,880 yards and 17 touchdowns despite playing in 117 of 128 possible games.
Now, at 30-years-old, Cook is hoping to build off arguably the best stretch of football in his career — the 2016 playoffs (18 catches, 229 yards, 2 touchdowns) — as he makes his way to the West Coast to Oakland.
Coming out of South Carolina, Steve Spurrier compared his tight end to Calvin Johnson due to his remarkable combination of size and speed. At 6’5” and 246 pounds, Cook ran a 4.50 40-yard dash (some reports even say he ran a 4.37 in 2007) and a 41-inch vertical at the combine (the third best mark by a tight end in combine history). Despite entering his ninth season, it appears some of that impressive athleticism is still there.
“He’s faster than I thought,” second-year safety Karl Joseph said. “There have been a couple of plays in practice where I’m lined up on him and he’ll take off and I’ll be like, ‘Damn, I didn’t know he was that fast.’ But he’s very athletic. It kind of reminds me of the tight end from the Chiefs, [Travis] Kelce.”
Kelce, of course, is one of the best tight ends in the league (224 catches, 2,862 yards and 14 TDs over the past three seasons) and someone Joseph and Co. know well. Now, if the Raiders can get production even in the same universe as Kelce from Cook, it’s safe to say his two-year, $12.2 million deal will be well worth it.
Last season, Clive Walford led Oakland tight ends with just 33 catches for 397 yards — an improvement over 2015 when he led the group with just 28 catches for 329 yards. In fact, you’d have to go all the way back to 2012 to find an Oakland tight end with more than 550 receiving yards in a season — that was Brandon Myers.
Of course, it’s one thing to look athletic in mini-camp and it’s an entirely different thing to be productive come September. Here’s to hoping Jared Cook is both.