Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State – 2016

Raiders, Round 4.

Postseason Events: NFL Combine. Was invited to the Senior Bowl, but declined to participate.

Positives: Ran a pro-style offense in college, so he should be fairly ready to learn an NFL-level offense. Great height and adequate bulk for the position. Above-average hand size. He throws with above-average arm strength and velocity. Above-average accuracy on crossing and slant routes, and shows good anticipation – throwing receivers open. Okay deep accuracy. Above-average accuracy on the run. Steps into his throws pretty well inside the pocket under no pressure. Is able to move around the pocket and reset his feet to deliver a pass. Knows when to throw the ball away. Seems to have strong hands and can hold onto the ball when defenders are swiping at it. Adequate track speed for the position. Adequate vertical leap and overall lower-body explosiveness in Combine drills. Fair play fakes.

Negatives: Needs to vary his velocity at times instead of throwing bullets on slant patterns. Eyeballs receivers consistently, and will tend to throw it directly at defenders he doesn’t see or to heavily defended receivers – especially in the red zone. Doesn’t sense the rush well from the outside and will sometimes roll into the pressure. Consistently poor decisions under pressure, and will throw it up for grabs. Below-average decisions on the run, and will throw it across his body into heavy coverage. Not effective at blitz recognition. Doesn’t recover well after mistake and becomes much more hesitant. Will consistently throw it into coverage. Seems to have trouble connecting on pitch plays. Inconsistent throwing mechanics in the pocket and on the run – doesn’t set his feet well for consistently and will throw it off his back foot under no pressure. Will try to throw with all arm, without stepping into his throws. His feet sometimes get crossed up even in a clean pocket and his accuracy gets thrown way off. Though he can move around the pocket adequately at times, he will miss opportunities to step up in the pocket. There have been several reports of bad attitude and teammates disliking him. Below-average ability to change directions with burst in Combine drills. Injured right shoulder in November 2015 but was back by the bowl game.

Pre-Draft Projection: Round 2. To me, he looks more like a Round 4 type of prospect with a long future as a backup if the reports of his poor attitude are incorrect. But a lot of people were talking him into the first round. I don’t really see – especially with his decision-making deficiencies. But he should at least be a solid backup with short-term starting potential.

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