A player’s favorite NFL team is a subject that’s rarely discussed heading into the NFL Draft. It’s primarily because the chances of that player landing on his preferred team are slim, and typically that player’s dream of playing in the NFL trumps any disappointment that might accompany being passed up by that team.
Wide receiver Brandin Cooks out of Oregon State could be the exception.
Cooks was asked recently about the potential to play for his beloved San Francisco 49ers, and he responded by simply saying, “Hey, I would love to blow the top off for them (the 49ers).” It’s a painfully simple quote, but the Niners could certainly have mutual interest in making this happen. Cooks is projected to come off the board in the late first round, meaning that he could very well be the top remaining wide receiver on the board when the Niners pick at No. 30.
There are three things that could prevent this match from happening. The first is that the Carolina Panthers jump on him with the No. 28 overall pick. Cooks, who measures in at 5-foot-10, 184 pounds and runs a reported 4.3 forty-yard-dash, is similar in stature to Steve Smith. It’s likely that they’ll look to add a big target for quarterback Cam Newton and look to Florida State‘s Kelvin Benjamin or LSU‘s Odell Beckham Jr.
The next thing that could prevent this is if the Niners decide that they too would like to add a big-bodied, downfield receiver in the first round. Neither Michael Crabtree nor Anquan Boldin boast great speed, and Cooks could add an explosive component to the Niners’ air attack. But at 5-foot-10, Cooks will be shorter than most corners in the NFL. The front office will have to weigh the size vs. speed questions if they do wish to select a receiver with the first-round pick.
The next thing that would prevent Cooks from landing in San Francisco is a fairly obvious one: The 49ers also have a major need at cornerback that they may very well choose to address in the first round. The possibility that the Niners could bundle their copious amount of draft picks to trade up for someone like Justin Gilbert or Sammy Watkins remains an option, too.
The potential for the Niners to tap Cooks in the first round of April’s draft is definitely on the table. However, regardless of who he ends up playing for, look for Cooks to make a big splash in the 2014 season.