Oregon State star Brandin Cooks is among the highest projected wide receivers in the 2014 NFL draft class, so it comes as no surprise that he announced his plans to declare officially on Thursday, Jan. 2.
CBS Sports' Eye on College Football tweeted the news after Cooks made his plans known:
Oregon State WR and Biletnikoff Award winner Brandin Cooks to enter NFL Draft - http://t.co/yjLnADuSQE— Eye on College FBall (@EyeOnCFB) January 2, 2014
Cooks built quite the resume in his three years at Oregon State, and it all came to the surface in 2013, as he had one of the most spectacular seasons for a receiver in recent history. He led the entire FBS with 1,730 receiving yards—also a Pac-12 record—and his 16 touchdowns were second among receivers.
His huge season earned Cooks the Biletnikoff Award as the nation's best wide receiver. Even though he isn't the best receiver in the draft class, he's among the top few.
CBS Sports has Cooks ranked as the seventh-best receiver in the class, behind Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Marqise Lee and more. While it's tough to see him jumping any of those three, he could become the fourth or fifth receiver off the board if a team thinks enough of him.
With a No. 38 overall ranking for Cooks per CBS Sports, he's most likely to fall off the board early in the second round but could sneak into late first-round status if he excels at the NFL Combine.
Cooks is one of the smallest prospects at 5'10" and 186 pounds, but he makes up for it by being one of the most explosive players in college football. His burst is among the best in the business and will immediately translate to big plays at the next level.
Simply put, he may be the best home run threat in this draft class.
He's also great without the ball, using peak footwork and route-running abilities to separate himself from defenders and allow quarterbacks to get him the ball a bit easier.
What sets Cooks apart the most from his fellow wideouts is special teams play. He has emerged as the Beavers' top punt returner and is exactly the type of player teams would love to have returning punts in the NFL.
His biggest criticisms aren't exactly a surprise, given his size. Cooks tends to get knocked off his pace rather easily when defenders get overly physical and dances around to avoid contact—which also works in his favor at times.
Having size issues shouldn't sway teams away from Cooks, as he's easily competent enough to thrive in a slot position for a team that has big targets on the outside.
The fact that his value is isolated as a slot guy makes him a slightly less attractive option than other large receivers in the class, but there's no doubting his ability will translate over to the next level.
Cooks is a slightly taller, slightly slower version of Tavon Austin. Just like him, it will take some time for Cooks to get adjusted to the league.
But when he is able to settle in and figure out how to make an impact, like Austin, Cooks will explode.