The NFL draft is just around the corner and excitement levels are at fever pitch. I’ve done some mock drafts of my own and lost count of the amount I’ve seen on television and social media from both fans and journalists alike. A recurring theme amongst almost every single fans draft has Green Bay taking a wide receiver in round one. For me, I see it happening, but only if Olave or Burks is still available. I’m not saying they would be my pick (that would be Williams for the record), but they both fit the profile of a Brian Gutekunst first round pick: young, athletic, and full of raw potential.
There is no doubt that wide receiver is an area in desperate need of improvement. This fact has been acknowledged by all three of LeFleur, Murphy and Gutekunst. The other acknowledgement is the draft capital available to improve this area, either through trades or the draft itself. Draft history would dictate that it’s extremely unlikely that the Packers take two receivers with their first two picks. It is also a stretch to claim that two rookie receivers would turn this offence into a Super Bowl contender. Which brings us to the next possibility: a trade for a trusty veteran, and for me, that guy is Brandin Cooks.
The reasons to trade for Cooks are numerous. Firstly, I think its possible to get him and some late round picks for the 59th pick. This would leave the Packers with their two first rounders and another second round pick to draft for need, maybe Christian Watson, maybe Nik Bonitto, maybe Zion Johnson, who knows. What we do know is that, in Cooks the Packers would be getting a proven NFL performer, in the position most in need of bolstering. It would as I’ve stated, also allow earlier picks to go on a D-lineman, corner, edge, safety, or even a receiver and then use later picks to bolster the O-line depth. They could still even leave the second round with Cooks and two rookie receivers.
Cooks’ NFL career stats to date jump off the page. He has had six seasons with over one thousand receiving yards, the only exceptions being his rookie season and the Rams 2019 season. His post season stats are equally impressive. In six post season starts, including two Super Bowl appearances, Cooks has racked up almost 450 yards.
A look at some of Cooks’ film leaves you thinking he is a perfect fit for Green Bay. He has the deep threat ability the Matt LeFleur craves. He can get open with subtle fakes, or just sheer speed, even when corners allow themselves a cushion. His route running is excellent and his speed always leaves defenders guessing as to whether he’s going deep or going to break off and cut back, thus allowing him to get open underneath for easy pick ups. Hit him on a slant in stride and he has that yards after the catch ability to really hurt a defence. If he’s left open in the flat with space and blockers in front, he can rip off big chunks of yards, too.
With motion being a key part of the Packers offence, then using Cooks on end arounds and sweeps is also another dimension he can bring. Although small in stature, he’s very physical and capable of exploiting even the smallest of gaps. He has all the attributes needed to make this offence exciting again and to get fans off their seats.
The biggest issue with Cooks would be his contract. Although entering his final year (2023 is voided), OverTheCap.com lists his cap hit at a little over $16.2 million. For a second round pick, there may be some negotiating room between the teams, but the Packers would have to find a way to restructure that number to afford Cooks. However, where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Taking Cooks makes sense on so many levels. You use a pick to get a proven NFL wideout, whilst keeping an the additional second round pick from the Adams trade. There may be extra late picks sent the Packers way too. The possibility to enter training camp with a guy who has Cooks’ CV and some exciting prospects added to Lazard and Cobb, is one that genuinely excites me and puts the Packers in a great position to challenge in 2022.
Cooks has played in two Super Bowls. He has played with Tom Brady and Drew Brees. Surely the chance to play with Aaron Rodgers and make it third time lucky would be too good to turn down and light a fire inside him. The chance to snare a proven 1,000 yards plus receiver must be one the front office feel is too good to turn down too. So whilst draft fever heats up and the clamour to replace Davante with two round one receivers goes into overdrive, we need to remember that the answer may well lie elsewhere. For me, part of that answer is Brandin Cooks.