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NFL New Orleans Saints

Brandin Cooks is a Strong Candidate for Rookie of the Year

Brandin Cooks New Orleans Saints

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Though he missed minicamp and league activities, Brandin Cooks still has an excellent shot at being the top rookie this season.

The New Orleans Saints‘ first-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft was unable to spend much time with the team before having to return to Oregon State University to finish out the school year. But he hasn’t forgotten about the team. While at school, Cooks has been studying the playbook for about an hour each day. Cooks isn’t falling behind.

During his short time with the team, the other players have already come to respect the young receiver’s talents. Cornerback Keenan Lewis has begun to affectionately refer to him as “Lightning” due to his speed and quickness. In addition to his teammates, the coaching staff seems to think that Cooks can provide a new spark for the Saints’ already explosive offense.

After trading running back Darren Sproles and releasing wide receiver Lance Moore, the Saints look to Cooks to replace their production. If Cooks’ college performance is any indication of how his NFL career will pan out, he should be able to replicate some of their production immediately. In fact, Cooks has even taken a few hand-offs during workouts, though Sean Payton says he doesn’t intend to line Cooks up at running back.

No matter where he lines up, with his 4.33 speed and his physicality, Cooks has the skill-set to exceed the production of Sproles and Moore in years to come. For now, he is set up to be a real playmaker and contender for Rookie of the Year honors.

William Potter is a New Orleans Saints writer for Rant Sports. Follow him @potter_taylor, like him on Facebook and add him to Google.