New Orleans Saints: First-round NFL Draft prospects worth watching

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Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

  1. Connor Cook, Quarterback, Michigan State

Age as a Rookie: 23 (Birthday in January).

Listed Height, Weight: 6-foot-4, 220 pounds.

Connor Cook returned to the discussion among the top quarterback draft prospects in 2016 with a three-touchdown game against Penn State, a game in which he also set the Michigan State all-time record in total offensive yards with 9,018 to Kirk Cousins’ 9,004.

Where He Wins:  Cook has faced some questions on his personality – having never been elected team captain – and his accuracy could leave something to be desired with a career completion percentage of 58.0, but his productivity is hard to contest.  He has averaged 8.0 yards per attempt in his career to pair with 71 touchdowns to 19 interceptions.  Those are good numbers even if they’re just box score scouting.

Cook looks to be one of the better quarterback prospects in the draft.  He comes from a system that frequently uses the slot receiver.  It is not a true spread offense like Baylor runs, but closer to the pro-style offenses that work with three-receiver sets and the shotgun snap.  Because of his experience as a three-year starter, Cook is familiar with much of what he’ll see in the NFL so far as throwing angles, pocket mobility, and the types of coverages he will be faced with.

If the New Orleans Saints are unhappy with Garrett Grayson’s progress and if Drew Brees’ situation has deteriorated, then Cook will likely be on their radar.  The two top quarterbacks in this draft class – Memphis’ Paxton Lynch and California’s Jared Goff – should both go ahead of where the Saints will be drafting in the first round.  However, Cook is expected to be available around their slot and they should absolutely do their due diligence into him as an option for a long-term franchise quarterback.

Next: 4. Can the Saints find someone to cover a tight end?