Combine height: 6-4 3/4
Combine weight: 246 pounds
Combine 40 time: 4.50 seconds
Cook completed his abbreviated stay at South Carolina with a junior season that included 37 catches for 573 yards and three touchdowns. For his three-season Gamecocks career Cook recorded 73 catches for 1,107 yards and seven touchdowns.
Cook’s athleticism jumped off the page at the Combine, as he not only ran the fastest 40 among tight ends but also had the highest vertical (41 inches) and the longest broad jump (10-3). Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier once compared Cook to Calvin Johnson, and while that may be a bit of a stretch there’s little question he has the top-end speed to split the seam and threaten defenses down the field. Cook has natural hands, though some scouts note he has been prone to lapses in concentration which have resulted in drops.
The converted wide receiver has NFL height for the position and a frame that could add 10-15 pounds without sacrificing too much quickness. However, his athleticism has allowed him to get by without relying on route-running technique and his time spent as a wideout means he’ll require work to get up to speed as a blocker. Those are small quibbles for someone who demonstrates not only the athleticism scouts covet but also enough football ability to suggest he’s more than a workout warrior.
While Cook’s raw physical skills make him a late first-round candidate, his rough edges likely relegate him to the second round. He has Dustin Keller-type potential as a receiver-first tight end, a bigger slot guy who will create matchup problems with either a too-slow linebacker or a too-small defensive back. The Browns have the fourth pick of the second round (36th overall) and just unloaded their pass-catching tight end, plus Eric Mangini is familiar with what a Keller-type player can do for an offense. The Bengals (38) have long been looking for a tight end and could be intrigued by what Cook brings to the table, and the Browns could have another shot at him with the very pick they acquired in the Kellen Winslow trade at 50. The Falcons (55) and Cardinals (63) are also in the market for a tight end and could take a chance on Cook’s upside.
At the risk of beating the Keller comparison to death, both enter(ed) the NFL with similar games so it’s not out of line to expect a similar level of productivity. That would mean starting around half of his team’s game, flashing glimpses of potential with a handful of big fantasy games, hitting the rookie wall about three-quarters of the way through the season, and finishing as a fringe every-week starter in larger fantasy leagues. Should Cook land in a situation where he’ll be afforded the same opportunities as Keller, 500 yards and three touchdowns isn’t asking too much; that’s on the cusp of warranting attention on fantasy drauction day.
If he is able to harness his talents and finds himself in the right situation, Cook’s upside could be in the Marcus Pollard range as a consistent receiver-first tight end who serves up a steady diet of 500- to 600-yard seasons with a half-dozen touchdowns. Expecting Antonio Gates might be too much, and it’s possible Cook may have one Eddie “Boo” Williams season or maybe never even make it that far… but there’s no questioning the upside he possesses.