Sunday, 11 August 2013

40 Players in 40 Days: Number 18 Brandin Cooks

(photo cred: John Miller - Associated Press)
Wouldn’t you know it? Suddenly tonight has turned into another catch up night in the top 40 countdown as we reveal a third player. We revealed an offensive skill position player for a Northwest school earlier tonight and here comes another as the 18th best player in the Pac-12 in 2013 is Oregon State Junior Wide Receiver Brandin Cooks. The previous names on the list are as follows:

 40. WR Chris Harper, Cal
39. OLB/S Dion Bailey, USC
38. S Alden Darby, Arizona State
37. OT Tyler Johnstone, Oregon
36. DE Chidera Uzo-Diribe, Colorado
35. S Deon Bucannon, Washington State
34. LB Shaq Thompson, Washington
33. DE Taylor Hart, Oregon
32. DT DeAndre Coleman, Cal
31. CB Terrance Mitchell, Oregon
30. C Hroniss Grassu, Oregon
29. DL Henry Anderson, Stanford
28. QB Kevin Hogan, Stanford
27. LB Carl Bradford, Arizona State
26. RB Storm Woods, Oregon State
25. QB Taylor Kelly, Arizona State
24. DL Cassius Marsh, UCLA
23. S Ed Reynolds, Stanford
22. OT Jeremiah Poutasi, Utah
21. TE Colt Lyerla, Oregon
20. RB Bishop Sankey, Washington
19. DT Leonard Williams, USC

Cooks is one of the best deep threats in college football, he has great straight line speed but he is so much more than a track runner. He has great change of direction ability and is deceptively strong for his size. Those attributes allow him to beat cornerbacks off the line, run great routes to gain separation and sprint down field to create big plays. Those abilities also make him a beast after the catch which allowed OSU to call simple, short passes to give Cooks the ball close to the line of scrimmage and watch him burst for 10, 20, and sometimes 30+ yards. Cooks also possess smooth hands and great concentration which allows him to haul in poorly thrown passes and make a play when the team needs him to.

Here is the play that I think was his best highlight of the season.

Against UCLA, he gets good separation off the line and doesn’t allow the UCLA corner to jam him or rub him off his route. He makes a strong catch with some traffic around him and then turns on the jets to run away from defenders for an additional 65 yards and the touchdown as he turns a 10 yard slant and into a huge play.

All that game breaking ability was enough for Cooks to tally 67 receptions, 1151 yards, and 5 touchdowns in 2012. He had to play Robin to teammate Markus Wheaton’s Batman who was a 1st team All-Pac 12 selection. However, with Wheaton moving on to the NFL, I expect Cooks’ role in the offense to increase even more and his production to balloon even further (especially his touchdown total).

His big question mark is obviously his size. At 5’10’’ he will have trouble at the next level. He can survive against college corners right now but he could have difficulty staying on his route against bigger and more physical corners in the NFL who have more freedom to play bump and run coverage. Pac-12 alumni like Steve Smith and DeSean Jackson have proven in recent years that one can be successful as a short WR in the NFL but I personally would prefer to see Cooks work in the slot at the next level. I think Cooks has elite after the catch abilities that few in college football can match and I believe he can best translate that at the next level by working out of the slot and trying to create matchup problems.

Brandin Cooks is simply put, one of the best Wide Receivers in college football. He is a dynamic threat that Defensive Coordinator’s need to start game planning for on Monday in order to be ready by Saturday. Thanks to his more productive team Markus Wheaton, Cooks was not an All-Pac-12 pick last season. With Wheaton gone and Cooks ready for his close up, a lack of accolades won’t be a problem in 2013.

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