Each Sunday we'll examine a potential draft pick for the Eagles -- first round or otherwise. Today we'll take a look at a wide receiver out of Oregon State.
Position: Wide Receiver
Height/Weight: 5-10, 189
School: Oregon State
One name that continues to build momentum and ascend on NFL draft boards is Oregon State wide receiver Brandin Cooks. Nicknamed “Sonic Boom” for his explosive speed and game-breaking ability, Cooks showcased his dynamic skill set at the combine in February and made quite the impression on the scouting community. He was timed at a 4.33 in the 40-yard dash, put up 16 reps on the bench, and generated a 36-inch vertical and 10-foot broad jump.
A two-year starter at Oregon State, Cooks was an ultra-productive weapon for the Beavers during his time in Corvallis. This past season, he enjoyed a breakout junior campaign when he hauled in an amazing 128 receptions for 1,730 yards and 16 touchdowns. And, for his efforts, he was recognized as the nation’s top wide receiver and awarded the 2013 Biletnikoff Award.
While Cooks was acknowledged as the top wide receiver this past season, he’s not regarded as the top receiver in the draft. Sammy Watkins, Marqise Lee and Mike Evans lead the way in what is the strongest class of wide receiver prospects in draft history; as many as eight receivers could be selected in the first round.
The abundance of talent available in this year’s draft, not just at the wide receiver position, but at multiple positions, could be great news for a team like the Eagles. With the recent release of DeSean Jackson, Cooks could be the explosive deep threat the team needs if he slides a bit in the draft and falls into their lap at 22nd overall.
Cooks is an exceptional all-around receiver who displays consistent pass-catching ability, possesses a dynamic skill set, and has the ability to score from any angle on the field. He’s a special athlete who demonstrates an incredible burst off the line, vision, and elusiveness in the open field. He’s a versatile playmaker who can line up on the perimeter or in the slot and impact a game on special teams. He’s a confident, durable and feisty performer who embraces the physical approach of the opposition and believes he can beat anyone that lines up in front of him. He has great body control and balance and is able to tightrope the sideline to gain extra yardage. He was respected by teammates and won’t be 21 years old until Sept. 25.
Although Cooks is a dynamic presence who features plenty of positives, he lacks the stature scouts covet and doesn’t offer a quarterback a large target. For his size, he has good strength and will get stronger, but he can be overwhelmed in man coverage and taken out of the action. He’s a willing blocker but lacks body strength, consistency and technique.
How he’d fit with the Eagles
The Eagles' decision to release Jackson this past Friday hit Philadelphia harder than the snowy weather this winter. And while the reasoning behind the release is understandable from an organizational standpoint, it’s a major risk from a football perspective, as the most explosive piece is now missing from one of the NFL’s most dynamic offenses a year ago.
With Jackson no longer with the Eagles, Riley Cooper, Jeremy Maclin and Darren Sproles will be counted on to make an impact in the passing game this season. But the draft is loaded at the wide receiver position and there’s a great opportunity for the Eagles to find a young receiver who has the ability to keep defenses honest and to make the others around him even better.
There are a handful of receivers that the Eagles could target in the first round, but Cooks is a suitable replacement for Jackson and an ideal fit in Kelly’s offense. Cooks’ ability to attract double teams, stretch the field, and take a short pass the distance for six represents what the Eagles have lost in Jackson. Also, Cooks’ hardworking, team-first attitude will go over well with the entire Eagles organization and earn the respect of his coaches and veteran teammates.
Prospect Reflection: Steve Smith (Utah), 2001: Third round (74th overall) by Carolina Panthers
Draft Projection: First round