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St. Louis Rams: Jared Cook's Dazzling Debut a Sign of Future Greatness

Best Rams' TE Ever?

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St. Louis Rams: Jared Cook's Dazzling Debut a Sign of Future Greatness
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Jared Cook could end up being the best tight end in St. Louis Rams' history.

COMMENTARY | If Jared Cook never plays another down for the St. Louis Rams, he will have been worth every penny the team gave him.

OK, that's a bit hyperbolic, but Cook's debut for the Rams was one for the ages.

Cook averaged 20.1 yards per catch in the form of seven catches and 141 yards. He also caught two touchdowns, including the game-winning score in the fourth quarter. That's not to mention the fact he should have scored three times, but a great play by Arizona Cardinals' rookie Tyrann Matthieu as Cook was about to stroll into the end zone in the first quarter prevented that.

The Rams signed Cook, 26, to a 5-year, $35.1 million ($19 million guaranteed) deal in the offseason, and he has already begun to prove one national football writer wrong.

Will Brinson of CBS Sports wrote this on March 13:

"But 54 percent of the contract is guaranteed? Yeesh, man. Cook is one of the highest-paid tight ends now, just behind Rob Gronkowski, Antonio Gates, Vernon Davis, Jason Witten and Aaron Hernandez.

Those guys are elite tight ends in this league (even if you want to knock Gates for getting older, he signed his deal when he was producing monster numbers). They do it all. Cook doesn't do it all, because despite being a talented receiving threat, he's not a great blocker."

The blocking part could still be accurate -- it's only one game after all -- but the last time I checked, Gates wasn't the greatest blocker around. In this new age of NFL tight ends, Cook is the prototypical guy and will thrive in the Rams' offense.

I'm not picking on Brinson, but Cook's deal -- while somewhat surprising -- is in line with what the market dictated at the time. Andy Benoit of Football Outsiders also questioned the deal. The Miami Dolphins were the Rams' biggest competitor for Cook's services, and they bowed out at the end. If Rams' management felt Cook was worth the money, then that's all that matters.

The happiest guy about Cook's acquisition is Sam Bradford. He lost his go-to receiver in Danny Amendola to the New England Patriots in the offseason. He was massively overrated, but he was Bradford's safety blanket. Cook is now that guy. He was targeted by Bradford 10 times in Week 1. Cook's presence will also take pressure off the Rams' young wide receivers in rookie Tavon Austin and 2012 second-round draft pick Brian Quick.

Bradford had a pretty good tight end at the University of Oklahoma as well in Jermaine Gresham, now of the Cincinnati Bengals. Having an athletic, impact tight end to rely on is nothing new for Bradford.

Cook might be the Rams' best tight end in franchise history. While that is also hyperbolic, it's not necessarily untrue.

Cook's 6'5, 248-pound frame is not dissimilar to Lance Kendricks. Cook has two inches in height on Kendricks, but they're similar players. However, Cook's athletic ability, sneaky speed and, the biggest thing -- sure hands -- set him apart from Kendricks and any other Ram tight end in the franchise's history. For clarification, in no way am I saying Kendricks is one of the best Ram tight ends ever. That would be foolish.

Pete Holohan was solid if unspectacular; Ernie Conwell and Roland Williams won a Super Bowl, but neither were the impact player Cook is, and he showed that in the season's first week.

Cook made just 11 starts in his 4-year Tennessee Titans' career. Barring injury, he'll get more starts this season with the Rams than he did in Tennessee.

The bar is set awfully high after a week, but Cook has the skill and ability to be the Rams' best receiver this season. And Bradford knows where to find him.

Dustin Nosler has followed the Rams from Northern California all his life. He's the founder of Feelin' Kinda Blue, a Los Angeles Dodgers' blog. He also co-hosts "Dugout Blues," a weekly Dodger podcast and writes about the Dodgers for the Yahoo Contributor Network. Find him on Twitter @FeelinKindaBlue.

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