Over the past ten years or so, the emphasis on passing offense has increased. The slot receiver position has become a staple in most offenses around the NFL. Many teams know how well Wes Welker ran underneath routes and spread the field in his glory days with the New England Patriots. Every year new slot receivers emerge and some fade into the distance.
In the 2014 NFL draft there will be one slot receiver who is regarded highly by many teams around the league. Oregon State wideout Brandin Cooks has gotten the attention of NFL scouts with his fantastic showing at the 2014 NFL scouting combine where he ran 4.33 seconds on the 40-yard dash. Many scouts are quick to draw comparisons between Cooks, Welker, and Tavon Austin.
According to beat writer Rich Cimini, Cooks can be viewed as a Victor Cruz type of player, who has a small frame as well, but is known for being able to win consistently at the point of a catch when he is contested.
Cooks will be a reliable slot receiver for many years to come in fantasy football. His ability to fight for balls in tight spaces and willingness to do dirty work with defensive backs makes him seem like a receiver who is ready to make an immediate impact in fantasy terms. However, his size has to be viewed as a negative. Comparing Cooks to Austin, Austin struggled in his rookie year adjusting to everything at the NFL level. The only time he truly seemed to excel last year was when he was given the ball with open space.
Cooks could suffer the same fate as Austin in his rookie year in 2014, but if he is drafted into a better offensive scheme than Austin was, he might posted decent numbers in his rookie year.
My final verdict is that speed and athleticism can kill at any level and Cooks measures up there with some of the best young slot receivers in the NFL. His size will give him trouble at points during the 2014 season, but he will still be worth picking up in fantasy drafts. Fantasy owners should view Cooks as a WR-4 with massive upside heading into the draft. His real draft stock may entice fantasy owners to grab him in the middle rounds, but owners should wait till the back end of the draft to look to pick up the speedy wide out.