One of the most dominant players in the nation has been Brandin Cooks of Oregon State. The wide receiver has been extremely effective in every game the Beavers have played this year, forcing the Oregon State coaching staff to find any way they can to get him the football. The result has been a show for fans in just about every game as Cooks just keeps making plays.
Going to the NFL, there is quite a bit to like about what Cooks can do for a team. His speed, acceleration, and great feet make it so he can get to almost any spot on the field and get open. He has shown he can be a tremendous pass catcher who is fantastic near the sideline in in the end zone. There are concerns including his overall lack of size, concerns over how he deals with press coverage, and his utter inability to block. Cooks projects as a top 75 pick as an electric playmaker who could be an extremely effective complementary receiver.
Vitals & Build
Cooks is listed at 5’10” 186lbs with a lean frame. He has great acceleration, long speed with terrific feet and agility. Cooks has shown he has impressive body control as well, but he does lack strength and bulk. It will be interesting to see if Cooks does measure in at that 5’10” mark as it looks like it might be wishful thinking. Cooks has a frame that should be able to add strength without losing anything athletically and he appears to have a good amount of physical potential.
Route Running & Technique
Cooks has a pretty good stance that allows him to release into his route with very little bounce. He has quick steps which make it so he can make quick adjustments and try to beat an opponent off of the line, but has the burst and long speed to exploit off man and zone coverages.
He needs to do a better job using his upper body and specifically his hands when it comes to beating press coverage and absorbing physical contact. When Cooks can win with his feet against press, he is fine, but when the opponent can get a jam on him or reroute him, he has trouble. The Beavers offense seems to have a good sense of this weakness and uses him off of the line or in motion among other ways to make it so he can get a clean release. He needs to get stronger and use his hands better to beat opponents or he will have some trouble getting a release against teams that use big, physical corners looking to beat him up at the line of scrimmage.
Cooks can run extremely effective routes because of his remarkable feet and body control. He takes quick steps and has great balance that allows him to plant and redirect extremely effectively and he appears to be well suited to play in weather. Cooks is going to be more dangerous in great weather or a dome, but the way he works his feet makes it seem as though he can adjust while opponents might have trouble keeping up with him.
Cooks has shown he can run just about any route thrown at him and do it effectively. He is fast enough where he is a threat going deep, but part of why he is able to keep opponents off balance is because of how he is able to run and sell so many other routes. Cooks is at his best with comeback and hitch type routes. He is able to plant and come back to the football with almost no wasted movement ready to make a catch. As a result, he is also able to execute double moves and create separation.
Cooks has run routes at just about every area of the field. He has experience running routes on the outside as well as inside, going across the middle of the field. Cooks can get more refined with how he runs routes, but his physical attributes as well as the experience he has in Corvallis have given him an outstanding base to work from with the potential to be an elite route runner.
Cooks demonstrates the ability to make great catches with his hands, many bordering on the spectacular. He shows he can have a good catch radius and is able to contort himself to make a number of big catches. Cooks is able to concentrate on the football with bodies flying around him and in tight spots.
When it comes to passes that are low or in situations where Cooks is in the middle of the field where he anticipates contact, he tends to resort to catching passes in his body. This is an area he can improve, but he does make the catches going over the middle, so it is not the end of the world.
Going to the sideline or in the end zone, Cooks does a great job of tapping his feet and is a natural in those areas. His quick feet make it so he can toe tap well and combining that with how well he can focus on the football, Cooks can demonstrate a tremendous amount of ability in those circumstances.
He will have the occasional drop, but they seem to be a matter of trying to run before he has secured the ball. Cooks needs to improve his strength overall and his hands are no different, so that should only help him improve.
Run After Catch
Because of his quickness and body control, Cooks can be a nightmare after the catch. He has the ability to make opponents miss and the speed to make them pay when they do.
Occasionally, he tries to do too much, cuts back and goes backward in hopes of making a play that does not always work out for him. Still, his confidence and athletic ability makes it difficult to want to dissuade from being so aggressive because he is dangerous. His judgment on when he can and cannot make a big play is an area he can improve, but overall, his big play potential after the catch is certainly an area that will make teams him more attractive. Oregon State has made it clear how much they like his ability after the catch, using him on jet type runs to see what he can create as a runner.
Cooks is a terrible blocker. He has trouble at just about every point in the blocking process. His angles need improvement, he does not really bring an attitude where he looks like he has much interest in blocking and the times he gets in the way, he puts up little fight if any and either gets overpowered or opponents just go around him. Cooks really needs to start from square one with this in addition to the fact he just needs to get stronger.
Cook’s skillset and athleticism suggests he can make a good punt returner. The results do not seem to bear out that way, but it is an area where a team could try to work him in because of what he can do with the ball in his hands.
Cooks can play in any scheme, but the key is his role. He is better suited to play as a #2 receiver at this point. Because of his slight build and concerns over his ability to take on and absorb contact and beat press. He is best used off of the line or in motion to help get him a free release off of the line. This does not mean he cannot be a primary option, but typically, the X receiver is on the line.
If Cooks can get stronger and use his hands better to beat press, he can become far more viable as a true #1 threat, but he appears to be a fantastic complementary option that a team can move around and use creatively to exploit holes and make plays.
As it stands right now, Cooks game is similar to that of DeSean Jackson of the Philadelphia Eagles. Both are extremely athletic, albeit physically small players that can make plays with the ball in their hands and create separation. Both also have shown to have some issues dealing with press coverage and beating a jam. As a result, they are better suited as a complementary option rather than the main guy and work better when there are other threats around to take attention from them.
Brandin Cooks has a ton of ability and as long as he can get a clean release, can be a dynamic pass catcher and runner. The concern is over his ability to take on and beat opponents who can jam him. If he can improve in that area and get stronger, he can be a full service receiver. Until then, combining that with the fact he brings next to nothing at the table as a blocker, Cooks looks to be a terrific complementary receiver with a good deal of upside. As a result, Cooks projects as a top 75 pick who is likely to go in the top two rounds of the draft because of how much of a threat he can be and the potential that he still possesses.
Some of the film used in this scouting breakdown was provided by the good folks at draftbreakdown.com