Connor Cook has a compact release; gets the ball out quickly on most throws. He’s strong in the play action game, selling hard run fakes. .
What the Film Shows
The rest of his game is a bit of a hodgepodge. Cook is aggressive down the field, but possesses below-average arm strength and is not terribly accurate in that part of the field. He is not a very accurate passer overall either. Cook’s mechanics frequently break down in the pocket, and not always due to enormous amounts of pressure, which would be slightly less concerning. Cook is often seen attempting throws from awkward or no platform, and the result is usually a lot of errant throws. Overall, it looks as though Cook tries to play above a level suited for his physical limitations.
What His Numbers Say
Here are Cook’s career numbers courtesy of Sports Reference:
I also included his senior season game log, including the rank of the opposing pass defense based on Football Outsiders S&P+ rankings:
The numbers on Cook are not terrific. He regressed as a senior from what were some pretty strong efficiency numbers in 2014, though his completion percentage has never broken 59 percent. As a senior, Cook played a fairly weak schedule, facing just three teams inside the top 40 of S&P+ pass defense. He played by far his best football against Penn State, completing less than 50 percent of his passes against Michigan and Alabama. This is not an impressive statistical resume, and I’d be interested to know what people thought about him if he hadn’t compiled these mediocre numbers at such a prestigious school.
Player Comparison: Joey Harrington
Cook has no shot at being a top-five draft pick like Joey Harrington was, but the two are remarkably similar on paper if we use the RotoViz Box Score Scout App:
I’m not showing these two side-by-side to show that Cook is a bit of a Harrington arbitrage and should be ranked higher. If anything, it shows just how flawed quarterback scouting was at the turn of the century. We can see both signal callers were below the 9 AYA and 8 YA, and had similar touchdown and interception numbers. They were also similar in that they had great success in their respective programs, and, to me, that falsely inflates their value. Harrington enjoyed the two best seasons in Oregon Ducks history (at the time), finishing inside the top-10 in his final two seasons. Cook also enjoyed great team success at Michigan State, finishing inside the top-six all three years he was the starter. While this is impressive, I don’t think team success is a strong indicator of a quarterback’s future success. And similar to Harrington, I don’t think Cook has shown enough actual quarterback skills to be successful at the next level.
Ideal Landing Spot: Eagles
Since I don’t think much of Cook, I think it will take a coach who is strong at working with quarterbacks to get anything out of him. Considering his history of working with signal callers like Alex Smith and Donovan McNabb under Andy Reid, new Eagles coach Doug Pederson could be a perfect fit. He has stated he likes the idea of a rookie quarterback sitting a year before becoming the starter, and the Eagles could pretty easily bridge to a 2016 rookie having recently re-signed Sam Bradford. They also have a good array of weapons to work with.
Current 2QB Fantasy Rookie Draft Projection: Third Round (Undrafted in 1QB Leagues)
I don’t think Cook is very talented, but it only takes one person to fall in love with him, and he will probably be a top 100-120 pick on draft day. Because of that, I think the third round is probably pretty likely in 2QB formats, where he may end up the fourth signal caller selected in fantasy drafts due to name and program recognition. In one quarterback formats, he probably won’t even be drafted.
Cook is the least impressive quarterback I’ve looked at so far. It seems as though a lot of his flaws are covered up by the quality of the Michigan State program, and perhaps even the recent success of former Spartan Kirk Cousins. I think any NFL team that takes him before the fifth round is making a tremendous mistake, as are any fantasy players that invest in him. The odds of him succeeding are extremely remote.
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