New Orleans Saints Sophomore Spotlight: Brandin Cooks


The New Orleans Saints have eleven players on their 90-man roster who are officially credited with entering their second year. Today, we start our series that highlights them under our ‘Sophomore Spotlight’. We begin with our favorite rookie from last year, wide receiver Brandin Cooks.

As we sat through the first night of the 2014 NFL Draft, we never would have guessed what ended up transpiring for the New Orleans Saints. The team traded up seven spots with the Arizona Cardinals to nab the 20th overall pick, and used it to draft Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks. At the time, it was a sign of things to come for the Saints’ offense, as they drafted a playmaker that was desperately needed to help the offensive attack. Cooks was easily associated to the top-tier of a rich wide receiver draft class, and was the fourth overall receiver taken behind Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, and Odell Beckham Jr.

Oct 26, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Brandin Cooks (10) celebrates a touchdown in the first quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

Brandin Cooks impressed fans and the local media right out of the gate, as his quickness helped him shine in OTAs, minicamp, and practice. One word to sum up his abilities: electrifying. Cooks got involved early and often, and was used in a variety of ways during the preseason. In his NFL season rookie debut, Cooks racked up 7 receptions for 77 yards, one rush for 18 yards, and caught his first touchdown late in the first half against the Atlanta Falcons.

A thumb injury against the Cincinnati Bengals would ultimately shelf Cooks for the year, but he still managed to finish the season with very respectable numbers as a rookie.

  • 53 receptions, 550 yards
  • 10.4 yards per reception average
  • 3 receiving touchdowns
  • 7 rush attempts, 73 yards
  • 1 rushing touchdown

A closer look at Cooks’ production in 2014 suggests he may not have been as effective as many originally thought. As per Pro Football Focus, Cooks didn’t grade out as high as some of the other rookie wide receivers. His negative grade of -2.1 was primarily fueled by his -2.0 grade in blocking. Here’s how Cooks stacked up with the outstanding wide receiver class, who all saw more than 50 percent of team snaps.

You may automatically notice that Cooks took the least amount of snaps among these eleven wide receivers. However, it’s worth pointing out that Cooks appeared in only ten games. In those ten appearances, Cooks still managed to appear in nearly 73 percent of all offensive snaps (545/751). Here are some things Cooks can boast about from the rookie wide receiver class.

  • Tied three players for least amount of drops (3)
  • Highest amount of percentage caught (81.5%)
  • Tied three players for least amount interceptions made throwing at player (1)
  • Highest rushing grade (0.4) – Had 7 rushes for 73 yards

Perhaps one of the best things to remember about Brandin Cooks is that only he’s set to turn 22 in September, so he has a very bright future ahead of him. He recently stated that he’s not feeling any pressure entering his second year with the black and gold.

"“I’m a lot more confident now that I know where I’m at and where I want to be and how I fit in with this offense. Now I can focus on that,” Cooks said. “I’m expanding on being that playmaker that I am, to be more explosive. Being able to do that consists of me not thinking too much and helps you play faster. That’s my biggest goal — not thinking so much, being smooth and playing the game I’ve always been playing.”"

Our guys at 120 Sports weigh in on Cooks’ breakout chances for the upcoming season.

Brandin Cooks looks to only increase his production in 2015, and finds himself a major candidate for a giant breakout season. There’s no question that he and veteran Marques Colston will hold the top two wide receiver spots. His versatility will continue to see him have specific plays drawn up in Sean Payton’s offense. Drew Brees will be sure to target Cooks this season.

When you think about the weaponry combination of Brandin Cooks and C.J. Spiller on the field at the same time, it brings on feelings of euphoria. There’s just so many looks and routes you can install with these two, and the offense will be sure to show that during the season. Cooks has a legitimate shot to become the first Saints wide receiver to amass 1,000 yards since Marques Colston and Lance Moore did so in 2012.

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