Oregon State receiver Brandin Cooks is a breath of fresh air in an NFL world where hitting is frowned upon, celebrations are discouraged and trash talk can leave a player labeled a thug.
Cooks is a throwback to an era when boasting was not a problem if you could back it up. He is not shy about describing his athletic ability. If there is a receiver better than Cooks in the upcoming NFL draft, he has never heard of that person. When Cooks (5-foot-10, 189 pounds) is asked to compare himself to Washington Redskins receiver DeSean Jackson, he does not mind telling you he can do it better than the veteran.
Cooks might be able to back up his bravado.
Cooks, who ran the 40-yard dash in 4.33 seconds at the NFL scouting combine, was the Biletnikoff Award winner as the nation's top receiver last season. He finished with 1,730 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns. He decided to skip his senior season to enter the NFL draft.
He also spoke with Shutdown Corner about everything NFL related:
Shutdown Corner: Let’s start with the most important question? Did you get that $100,000 check from Adidas for running the fastest 40-yard dash time at the NFL scouting combine?
Brandin Cooks: Yes, sir. I actually did, and it’s sitting in the bank right now. First of all, I was very careful when I walked in there [the bank]. I had to be pretty sly about it because I didn’t want everyone to know that’s what I had.
On a serious note, it was an amazing feeling to be able to have something like that. First check, it was just a blessing.
SDC: How important was it for you to run the fastest time at the combine?
BC: It was important due to the fact that the night before I had my formal interviews with teams, and coaches asked me what did I think I was going to run. I gave them a time, and I set the goal high. I wanted to back my word up and show these coaches what I say is what I mean.
SDC: Do you think you could have run faster?
BC: No doubt. No doubt about it. Actually, at the end of the 40, I started to pick my knees up a little bit more. I definitely could have ran in the 4.2 range.
SDC: What has the pre-draft process been like for you?
BC: It’s a dream come true. God has blessed me to be in a position like this. I’m having a great time with all of this. I’m having a fantastic time with the interviews and everything. It’s just amazing. I got to go down to L.A. and be on the NFL Network for the first time. It’s a dream come true. Once you know about the NFL, you would love to do this, and now I’m actually living, and I’m really happy about that.
SDC: Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans have received most of the pre-draft attention, but do you believe you are the best receiver in this draft?
BC: Honestly, I really do. If I’m not getting attention like those two other guys, it is what it is. At the end of the day, when we suit up and have our rookie year, it’s going to tell. It’s one of those things that I know how hard I work. We all put our pants on the same in the morning, but I go to sleep at night knowing I worked the hardest, and there’s no one out there that’s outworking me. It’s as simple as that, and I really feel like I’m the best receiver in this draft class.
SDC: Do you think you will have better statistics as a rookie than any other receiver?
BC: Exactly. That’s my goal, and that’s the way I’m approaching everything.
SDC: What gives you that kind of confidence?
BC: I’m putting in the work to be the best, but I have so much untapped potential, and I did what I did in college. Once I get to an NFL coach and he puts me under his scheme, I think it’s going to continue. At the same time, my faith in God. He gives me the confidence, and it’s true confidence. After that, I don’t have to worry about anything else. As long as I have my confidence in him, it is what it is. I love the game so much, and the competition, I love it. I like to compete. I think that’s what inspires me every morning.
SDC: How much will playing in a pro-style system at Oregon State help you in the NFL?
BC: I think it will help me a lot. You get to the NFL, and it’s a pro system. Coming from a pro system, you’re running your basic routes, you’re doing everything, you’re learning coverages, you’re learning adjustments and hot reads. I feel like I will understand the terminology to the fact I’m coming from something like that. I’m not coming from these spread offenses or things like that.
SDC: You were not a slot receiver in college. Would you prefer to stay on the outside?
BC: I would prefer it. Honestly, I feel like I could do a lot of damage out there. But these coaches know football and what to do with me. If they want to put me in the slot, I feel like I could be dangerous in the slot, too. I have a great feeling they will use me in both places, and I’m totally fine with that.
SDC: What did you think of Chip Kelly’s offense when he was coaching at Oregon?
BC: When I saw Coach Kelly and what he was doing in college, I was like “wow.” Honestly, I felt like in order to be successful in that offense, you had to have some ability. He likes the blow the top off, he likes to run shadows, he likes to run screens. That’s an offense for fast people.
SDC: Do you think the Eagles’ offense is tailor-made for your skill set?
BC: I think I can [excel in Kelly’s system], but whenever I go, I’ll be ecstatic. It doesn’t matter what the offense is. I just saw his offense first-hand in college, and that’s why I’m so familiar with it.
SDC: Let me give you the opportunity to backtrack. You previously said you could do it like DeSean Jackson, and even better. Did you really mean that?
BC: I said it. Before that I said he is a heck of a player, he blows the top off, he’s a freak. I understand that. At the same time, I don’t think anything less of myself. Just coming from this type of offense, a pro-style system, having that type of background, I just feel once I get to the NFL, I do it better at a higher level. It’s no disrespect to DeSean Jackson. I know what I can bring to the table, and it’s as simple as that. I feel like I’m a freak also. If he’s a freak, I think I’m one, too. It’s as simple as that.
SDC: When you say you can do it better, what does that mean? More yards than DeSean? More touchdowns than DeSean?
BC: Basically, I’m telling you if they [Eagles] were to pick me up, they wouldn’t have to worry about a decrease in playmaking ability. I feel like I have the same playmaking ability in the receiver spot also. That’s what it’s entailing. It’s not entailing that I’m going to have more yards or anything like that. It’s entailing that I’m going to do it at that level and on a higher level.
SDC: So if you were drafted by Carolina, do you feel like you can be on the same level as Steve Smith or even higher?
BC: See, now you’re trying to get me.
SDC: I’m not trying to get you. I’m trying to see where your head is.
BC: That’s a Hall of Famer. I expect teams when they draft me, I expect myself to come in and play right away and not to be waiting around as a rookie. I’m not going to consider myself a rookie. This is a grown man’s game. I’m going to come in there and do what I have to do, plug into an offense, and I’m going to make sure that offense is successful. They don’t have to worry about, “Oh, I’m drafting a rookie. It’s going to take a long time.” It’s not going to take me a long time.
SDC: Have you worked out for any teams yet?
BC: I had a couple of private workouts [Patriots and Panthers]. I have a visit to New York [Jets] on April 20. I leave next Sunday. There are few more.
SDC: You majored in human development and family sciences, and minored in communications. When do you plan to graduate?
BC: I’m going to graduate next fall. I’m taking classes now and took classes during the winter term. I’m right around the corner on being finished.
SDC: Will your mom be more proud of you getting drafted or obtaining a college degree?
BC: Probably the college diploma due to the fact she preached education all the time. She made sure I was taking classes even though I was training for the combine. Every time I talk to her, it’s, "How is school? How is school?" Then she asks me about football.
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