May 8, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Brandin Cooks (Oregon State) poses for photos after being selected as the number twenty overall pick in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft to the New Orleans Saints at Radio City Music Hall. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
Now that we’ve had some time to let the events from last night digest, it’s time to peel back a little bit of the layers associated with the Saints 20th overall selection of Oregon State wide receiver, Brandin Cooks.
I proudly give you a combination of reasons, thoughts, and beliefs why this pick makes sense for the New Orleans Saints.
1. The Saints Won’t Solely Be a ‘Ground and Pound’ Style Offense
The Saints will continue to have a good one-two punch running the ball with Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson, and if anything, we could see a more balanced approach to the Saints offense in 2014. However, the selection of Cooks means that the Saints will not focus solely on running the ball.
We’re already hearing that Cooks is the ‘Darren Sproles‘ replacement. However, Cooks’ style and play resembles more like DeSean Jackson‘s, without the drama. Plus, Sproles played running back for the team. I felt that the Saints would look to be more physical in 2014, and run the ball more than normal. Cooks adds a dynamic to the Saints offense that was missing last year, and that’s a big play wide receiver who has the potential to make something happen every time he touches the ball. Drew Brees has another toy in his offense, and we should see Drew bang out another 4-5,000 yard season.
2. Someone’s Roster Spot is in Serious Jeopardy
There’s no other way to say it, but there’s going to be a wide receiver that will not make the final roster for the Saints in 2014. Quite honestly, it’s going to be out of Andy Tanner, Joe Morgan, or Nick Toon. Morgan has been riddled with injury problems, Toon has not lived up to his worth yet, and Tanner has failed to crack the final roster in the past couple of seasons. The Saints traditionally rotate five receivers on the active roster, and it has been quite some time since there have been six. We already know (injuries aside) that Marques Colston, Robert Meachem, and Kenny Stills are a lock to make the roster. Cooks should lock up a spot with ease, and that means there’s only going to be one or two more receivers on the team. It will be one hell of a camp battle.
3. There’s Tremendous Confidence in our Defense
The Saints had several needs heading into the draft, and we have been able to narrow down those primary needs to offensive lineman, wide receiver, and cornerback. Linebacker was also another position once thought of as a major priority, but that seems to be downplayed with the selection of Cooks (plus Shazier went off the board quicker than anticipated). In all fairness, the team should proceed on Day 2 with their second round selection, potentially securing a center (Marcus Martin of USC or Weston Richburg of Colorado State), or nabbing a cornerback we’re not as familiar with like Stanley Jean-Baptiste of Nebraska.
All in all, the Saints feel good about Champ Bailey. They also feel good about the guys playing behind him (Patrick Robinson & Corey White). Coupled with defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, you should feel good about the Saints situation on defense as well.
4. Cooks Is Dangerous
You’ve already heard about the comparisons to Darren Sproles, but what specifically makes Cooks that appetizing? Let’s start with the way Cooks fits into the Saints offense. His role could be best suited as a slot receiver. In the open field, Cooks has much elusiveness, and he’s quick on his feet. Coupled with those skill sets, Cooks has tremendous balance, concentration, and overall awareness. Let’s not forget to mention that he has great hands.
If the main knock you have against Cooks is the height factor, then are you really that concerned? Cooks is brought in as a role player for the organization, and that’s where he’s best suited, for now.
5. I Trust Mickey Loomis & Sean Payton
When it boils down to it, there’s nothing else to say other than I trust our scouts, head coach, and general manager. The team traded up seven spots and gave away their third round pick to the Arizona Cardinals to nab Cooks. The vast majority of the ‘top tier’ receivers went quickly. Sammy Watkins went 4th Overall to the Buffalo Bills, Mike Evans went 7th Overall to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Odell Beckham went 12th Overall to the New York Giants.
"“He was the one remaining player in that group that was someone we identified that we might trade up to get if we felt it was necessary. It was pretty clear as to how he interviewed and how we felt about him.” -Sean Payton"
That explanation alone from head coach Sean Payton works for me. Cooks should be a very entertaining player to watch evolve in the New Orleans Saints offense. He should make immediate impacts with the team. When you look at how the Saints can attack, you have to pick your poison. Whether you choose to double up on Jimmy Graham, account for a deep threat with Kenny Stills or Joe Morgan, or defend Marques Colston aka ‘Mr. Reliable’, or work your game plan based off of the threat of Brandin Cooks, teams will have a tough time devising a game plan that solves for the New Orleans Saints in 2014.
Final Grade: A
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