Are any of the wide receivers taken in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft better than Brandin Cooks of the New England Patriots?
Three wide receivers were selected in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft on Thursday. The New England Patriots packaged their first-round selection to the New Orleans Saints for wide receiver Brandin Cooks earlier this offseason.
Cooks entered the league as the twentieth overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft by the New Orleans Saints. In three seasons with the New Orleans, Cooks has posted 215 receptions for 2,861 yards and twenty touchdowns. In March of 2017, the Patriots traded their 1st-round, 32nd overall pick, and 3rd-round, 103rd overall pick for the Saints 4th-round, 118th overall pick, and wide receiver Brandin Cooks.
Figuratively speaking, it could be said that New England drafted Cooks by trading their first-round pick to New Orleans in return for the wide receiver. By that precedent, how does the former Saint stack up against the draft’s top wide receivers?
Corey Davis, Western Michigan
Corey Davis was the first wide receiver off the board in the 2017 draft; he was selected by the Tennessee Titans with the fifth overall pick.
Cooks doesn’t possess the tall, bulky frame that Davis does, though he does sport bigger hands. Although Davis’ sizable build may seem more appealing, he did not participate at the scouting combine or his pro day due to an ankle injury, whereas Cooks hadn’t missed a game for New Orleans since his season-ending thumb injury in 2014.
Ultimately, Cooks biggest advantage is his experience and production against NFL talent compared to Davis’ against MAC level competition. There’s no denying his production at Western Michigan, however, over four years, Davis totaled 52 catches, 701 yards, and 5 touchdowns in nine games against “power five” teams, in comparison to Cooks’ 84 receptions, 1,019 yards, and 8 touchdowns in 17 games against NFL playoff teams since being drafted in 2014.
Mike Williams, Clemson
With the seventh selection in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Los Angeles Chargers took Mike Williams.
Like Davis, Williams has the tall, long frame of a traditional wideout, contrasting Cooks’ shorter, speedier build.
In 38 games at Clemson, Williams collected 177 catches, 2,727 yards, and 21 touchdowns, averaging 15.4 yards per reception. Although Clemson’s spread offense required fewer routes, Williams experience against “power five” teams and familiarity playing in big games will help him in his transition to the pros. Cooks was drafted out of Oregon State’s pro-style offense and like Williams faced several intermediate opponents within the PAC-12 conference. In 38 games at Oregon State, Cooks tallied 226 catches, 3,272 yards, and 24 touchdowns. Cooks also won the Fred Biletnikoff Award in 2013.
John Ross, Washington
The third wide receiver taken in the first round was Washington’s John Ross; by the Cincinnati Bengals with the ninth overall pick.
With similar measurables and testing scores, Brandin Cooks and John Ross are nearly identical. Even Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller mocked Ross to the Saints with the thirty-second pick as a replacement for the departed Cooks.
"“The Saints traded Brandin Cooks to the New England Patriots in March, and they will immediately replace him with John Ross.” – Matt Miller"
Both receivers clocked blazing fast forty-yard dash times, Cooks with a 4.33-sec, Ross with the record 4.22-sec. Physically, their frames almost mirror each other, both are five-eleven or under and around 189-pounds. However, it’s Cooks’ frame that has proven to be more durable. Cooks hasn’t missed a game in two straight seasons, Ross, on the other hand, has undergone both knee and shoulder surgeries.
More from Musket Fire
- Patriots get steal of the night with perfect first round pick
- What trading Mac Jones during the draft can do for the Patriots
- Best and worst draft picks during the Bill Belichick era
- Early round Patriots draft picks you’ll hate now, love later
- Musket Fire Roundup: Our own final predictions for round 1
Only time will tell if Brandin Cooks is the better option, but as for right now, Cooks has more NFL playing time, production, and knowledge than the entire draft combined.