Brandin Cooks, WR/PR, Oregon State

Saints, Round 1. Was projected pretty universally to go in the late first round as the fourth receiver overall, and that’s where he went. It’s just that nobody expected his team to be the Saints. Probably becomes the second or third wide receiver on the team, behind Kenny Stills and Marques Colston (until his leg falls off). He’s also behind Jimmy Graham on the pecking order. But, as much as Brees spreads the ball around, he’s likely to get a lot of targets anyway. Reminds me a lot of Jarrett Dillard, who was a super-athletic smaller wide receiver with a lot of speed, quickness, and ball skills whose career never took off due to injuries and, well, the Jaguars. With his lack of size, Cooks’s career could see the same flat trajectory. Or maybe he’s a Desean Jackson.

Positives: Though he’s a smaller receiver, he’s well built. Above-average hand size. Runs with great track speed and above-average game speed and very good quickness and acceleration off the line and after the catch. Very good stop-and-start ability. Runs good routes, and is very quick in and out of his breaks, getting good separation from defenders. Above-average hands and concentration – even on passes in traffic. Extends and adjusts very well for off-target passes and passes away from his frame, and can snag passes at their highest point. Shows good effort on errant passes and will go to the ground for the catch. Shows above-average body control to come down with off-target passes and is nimble on the sidelines. Good vertical leap, and can go up and get the pass – very effective in jump-ball situations despite his height. Good open-field vision and elusiveness for yards after the catch and is patient as a runner, waiting for blockers. Makes generally smart punt-return fielding decisions. Good downfield blocker despite his size. Smart receiver. Very agile and can reset his feet after being knocked off balance quickly. Adequate upper body strength. Very good lateral quickness and ability to change directions in Combine drills. Tough — though he’s been injured, he’s never missed a game.

Negatives: Short for the position, with below-average bulk. Ankle and knee injuries in 2012 slowed him down for a while. Not very strong, and will probably have trouble with physical defenders if they can stay with him. Injured ribs in September 2013, and it seem to hamper his ball security.

Projection: I expect him to put up immediate WR3 numbers and could eventually grow into a WR2, though his ceiling is probably limited by the way Brees consistently uses every receiver on the field. Draftable high in the first round of dynasty rookie drafts.

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