by Jared Roberts
Brandin Cooks isn’t near the value he once was as a former 1st round draft pick. But, if you actually break down some of the reasons why that is, his numbers still show to be productive as the number one or two option.
Cooks played in New Orleans for the first few years of his career and started putting up numbers over the 1,000-yard mark after a breakout season in 2015. In 2016, he put up 35 more yards with 12 fewer receptions than the previous year. This happened to be the year that Michael Thomas entered the league, and within just a few weeks, Drew Brees had found his favorite target with Thomas. New Orleans decided they no longer needed the former #1 receiver and shipped him to New England.
Cooks was never going to be the #1 option for more than one year in New England. Anyone who has watched football for the past five years understands why. Brady loved Edelman, and even more so, Gronkowski. The main reason that the Patriots wanted Cooks that season was because Edelman was out for the year. The Patriots knew this was a one-year rental and decided in the offseason to send him to LA. However, Cooks didn’t go without leaving his mark in 2017: 65 receptions for 1,082 yards.
The 2018 campaign turned out to be the best season of Cooks’ young career. He amassed 1,204 yards on 80 receptions and had an impressive 68% reception rate. The Rams were no joke that year, with one of the best offenses in the NFL and to a 13-3 record. Sadly, they were defeated by the red-hot Atlanta Falcons, who eventually made a run at the Super Bowl. Cooks had been placed with two other top-tier receivers on the Rams offense: Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods.
The depth chart had Cooks listed ahead of Kupp, who didn’t have his breakout season until the 2019 campaign. Looking at receptions and yardage for Cooks and Kupp, it’s easy to see that there simply wasn’t enough football to go around to please all of these great receivers. Both Cooks and Kupp have had 189 targets in the past two years, with Cooks’ more targeted season coming in 2018 and Kupp’s coming in 2019.
News recently broke that the Texans would be trading their 2nd round pick this year for Brandin Cooks and a future 4th round pick. While that might seem like a high price for a player who had fewer than 600 receiving yards last season, there is still plenty of hope and trust that Deshaun Watson can help turn his career around. DeAndre Hopkins averaged about 160 targets the past three seasons as a part of the Texans, and with his recent departure from the organization, this gives way to a potential slew of targets to the incoming Cooks. He could once again prove that he is a star in the NFL.