Former Oregon State standout wide receiver Brandin Cooks' draft stock just got a huge spike.
We already knew what kind of explosiveness he brought to the football field after seeing him in action in college. However, his display of athleticism during the combine was extraordinary.
He ran a blazing 4.33-second 40-yard dash, a 3.81 20-yard shuttle and a 10.72 60-yard shuttle—the fastest times of any wide receiver in all three events. Despite his smaller frame, he still recorded a 36" vertical jump and a 120" broad jump.
That kind of athletic ability is a hot commodity among NFL teams.
The biggest knock on Cooks is his size. Standing at 5'10" and weighing 189 pounds, he is not anywhere close to the biggest wide receiver in the draft. However, size doesn't always necessarily matter on the NFL level when a prospect has the fleet-footed skill set of Cooks.
The NFL is built around high-octane, pass-happy offenses that feature speedy wide receivers who are capable of creating yards after the catch. When looking at the success of similar-sized athletes such as DeSean Jackson of the Philadelphia Eagles and Tavon Austin of the St. Louis Rams, it is clear that a prospect like Cooks can flourish at the next level.
After exploding off the line during his position drills at the combine, he proved that his 128 receptions for 1,730 yards and 16 touchdowns last season at Oregon State were no fluke. He is the real deal.
He has the confidence to go along with his skill set. During an interview with Rich Cimini of ESPN.com, he explained what he brings to the table:
Just the production. Numbers don't lie, and what I bring to the game, my confidence with the way I work, my work ethic. I feel like no one is out there working harder than me. I have a lot to prove. I have a chip on my shoulder. They say I'm not the tallest, but I feel like there's so many guys in this game today that are potential Hall of Famers like Steve Smith, who's killing the game right now. DeSean Jackson. I can go down the list. There are under 5'10" (players) that are definitely great receivers in this game.
Confidence is a big part of taking the next step to the professional level. A high amount of confidence can lead to a prospect blooming early in the NFL. Cooks' combination of speed, versatility (he can play slot or outside) and confidence could allow him to make an immediate impact on a receiver-needy team.
There's still plenty of debate as to which wide receiver prospects should be drafted after Clemson's Sammy Watkins. Marqise Lee, Mike Evans, Odell Beckham Jr. and Kelvin Benjamin are all commonly mentioned regarding the first round of the draft.
Cooks had been left out of that conversation leading up to the combine. However, he was never very far off—CBSSports.com considered him a late first- or early second-round prospect.
After his stellar showing at the combine, certain teams may look to his skill set over other receivers in this year's draft class. There are plenty of needy teams toward the end of the first round, and it shouldn't be a surprise when his name is called at that point.
Not only did Cooks' athletic performance earn him money at the combine, but it should solidify him as a first-round prospect for the 2014 NFL draft.
Combine results courtesy of NFL.com.