The initial buzz of Brandin Cooks trade to the Patriots has worn off and fans all over are aching for some real football. The highly anticipated debut of Cooks in a Patriots uniform, catching passes from Tom Brady, is still three months away. However, a glimpse of the Brady to Cooks connection will be had once training camp is in full swing.
Until then, it is all about projecting. How will this unknown (to Patriots’ fans) commodity gel with the defending super bowl champions? Analysts and fans are proclaiming Cooks the best receiver the Patriots have had since Randy Moss. All this without seeing him play a down for the Patriots.
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Let’s get one thing clear, the hype is legit. In Cooks three seasons in the NFL, he has 215 receptions, 2,861 yards, and 20 touchdowns. All this in just 42 games. In the past two years, he has surpassed 1,100 yards receiving twice. He caught 17 of his 20 touchdowns in that same span. And he is just 23-years-old.
Pro Football Focus recently took a look at Cooks six most target routes and the passing rating of the quarterback throwing those routes.
A look at how new Patriots WR Brandin Cooks might complement Tom Brady: pic.twitter.com/eSbN6mtGDK
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) May 30, 2017
It’s expected that Brady would have a good passer rating no matter where he throws the ball. However, to be this good on all of Cooks’ best routes should scare opposing defenses. On five-of-six of Cooks’ routes, Brady’s passer rating surpasses 115. According to the chart, the most dangerous of these routes is the crossing pattern. Something the Patriots are all too familiar with.
On top of that, Cooks is now on a team more loaded with talent than any Saints’ team in the past three seasons. Cooks will not be the lone weapon on offense. Rob Gronkowski’s ability to streak up the middle of the field and Edelman’s route-running ability should open up massive holes for Cooks.
In addition, the Patriots’ receivers run more routes with multiple breaks in them than any other team in the league. Cooks is by far the best receiver at running such routes according to Pro Football Focus.
Patriots receivers run a lot of these routes, and nobody was better at them in 2016 than the guy they just acquired, Brandin Cooks. pic.twitter.com/sNIjrym8DA
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) March 22, 2017
Cooks will also be a drive starter for the Patriots. 32 of his 78 receptions last year were on first down, averaging 18.5 yards per reception with a fresh down-and-distance. For his career, Cooks has 1,186 yards on first down and 12.8 yards per reception.
As a result of playing for the Saints, Cooks was often playing from behind. Cooks has racked up 115 career receptions when trailing in a game. Something he won’t add much to with the Patriots.
However, he also has nearly 2,000 yards receiving when the distance to go is 10-plus yards. He is a big play receiver on a team with a lot of big-time players. If he and Brady can get on the same page quickly, then the duo will wreak havoc on the NFL. Starting with Thursday Night Football against the Kansas City Chiefs.