AFC North: Brandin Cooks

With the Baltimore Ravens looking to add a wide receiver and tight end at some point in the draft, here are some numbers from ESPN Stats & Information on some selected prospects at those positions:

FIRST ROUND

Ebron
Eric Ebron, North Carolina TE: Averaged 8.7 yards after the catch, best of any of the top 10 tight end prospects.

Odell Beckham Jr., LSU WR: Caught 26 passes thrown 15 yards or longer downfield last season, most among qualifying receivers. He had multiple receptions on passes of this distance in 7 of 13 games.

Brandin Cooks, Oregon WR: Gained 1,215 yards after the catch over the past two seasons, which ranked fourth among qualifying receivers. During that time, he had 23 receptions in which he gained at least 15 yards after the catch.

Marqise Lee, USC WR: Trojan quarterbacks completed 69.7 percent of their pass attempts with 29 touchdowns and just one interception when targeting Marqise Lee in his career. They averaged 10.3 yards every time they targeted Lee.

Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State WR: Produced a first down or touchdown on 83.3 percent of his receptions last season, tied for the third-highest percentage of any FBS wide receiver.

SECOND ROUND

Jace Amaro, Texas Tech TE: Produced 33 receptions of 15 yards or longer, 11th-most in the FBS and 10 more than any other tight end.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington TE: Had only three drops in 149 targets over the past two seasons. His drop percentage of 2 percent is the lowest of any top tight end prospect.

Davante Adams, Fresno State WR: Topped the FBS with 13 receiving touchdowns of 20 yards or longer. He also led the FBS in receptions (131) and touchdown catches (24).

THIRD ROUND

Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt WR: Led all qualifying receivers with 44 receptions and 421 yards on screen passes last season. He averaged 9.6 yards per reception on screens.
PITTSBURGH -- The Steelers used a third-round pick last year on Oregon State wide receiver Markus Wheaton, and I'm starting to wonder if they will give serious consideration to adding his college teammate via the draft.

To do that the Steelers will have to spend their first-round pick on Brandin Cooks even though he would do anything but add size to their receiving corps.

Cooks
Cooks measured in at just 5-foot-9 3/4 at the NFL scouting combine in February but he also wowed teams in Indianapolis by running a blistering 4.33 in the 40-yard dash.

Take that eye-popping time, Cooks' production in college -- he caught 128 passes for 1,730 yards and 16 touchdowns last season -- and his swagger and there is a lot to like about this guy.

Speed, after all, wasn't the only thing that Cooks displayed at the combine. He called himself the best wide receiver in the draft and explained from where such confidence emanates.

"Numbers don't lie and I feel like no one is out there working harder than me," Cooks said. "I have a lot to prove. They say I'm not the tallest but I feel like there's so many guys in this game today that are potential Hall of Famers like Steve Smith, DeSean Jackson. I can go down the list and there's under 5-10 [players] that are great receivers in this game. For me, I'm a playmaker.”

Cooks has a believer in ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.

Kiper ranks Cooks as the No. 3 wide receiver in the draft behind only Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans -- the two players Cooks beat out for the Biletnikoff Award in 2013 -- and the 15th-best player overall.

Kiper has compared Cooks to Rams wide receiver Tavon Austin, the eighth overall pick of the 2013 draft, but said Cooks is quicker, stronger and a little bigger than Austin.

Kiper has the Ravens taking Cooks at No. 17 overall in his latest mock draft. But the Steelers could give him serious consideration at No. 15 depending on how the draft shakes out before they make their first pick.

I'm all for the Steelers adding a tall receiver to the offense but it doesn't look like the 6-foot-5 Evans will last until the 15th pick of the draft. And the Steelers are setting themselves up to make a mistake if they place too much of a premium on height when assigning draft grades to wide receivers.

As Cooks said, "Speed kills and I feel like that's what I'm going to bring to the game."

Analyzing Kiper 3.0: Ravens

March, 13, 2014
Mar 13
2:00
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In his latest mock draft, ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. has the Baltimore Ravens taking a wide receiver. The position isn't a surprise, but the name might be.

Kiper has Oregon State's Brandin Cooks going to the Ravens at No. 17. Overlooked because of his size (5-foot-9), Cooks generated a lot of buzz last month when he ran the second-fastest 40 of the weekend at 4.33 seconds and was equally as impressive in the on-field drills.

This solidified Cooks as a first-round prospect along with the likes of Mike Evans, Marqise Lee and Kelvin Benjamin, all of whom have been linked to the Ravens at some point.

I'm not sold on the Ravens going with Cooks. If they sign a wide receiver like Steve Smith in free agency, the Ravens don't want two targets for Joe Flacco under 6-foot.

The Ravens still need to take a young receiver in the first couple of rounds, no matter what they do in free agency. But Cooks seems to be a risky prospect who could join Travis Taylor and Mark Clayton as disappointing first-round wide receivers.

McShay Mock 3.0 reax: Browns

March, 6, 2014
Mar 6
2:00
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Todd McShay again goes chalk with his picks for the Cleveland Browns in his latest mock draft, version 3.0.

McShay has the Browns taking the best available quarterback with the fourth pick, and a receiver at the 26th. The surprise is the receiver isn’t Davante Adams, even though he’s there on McShay’s board.

This thinking is logical and sound, and very much "inside" the proverbial box.

McShay says the Browns have to think quarterback with the fourth pick, which I don’t necessarily agree with. The remaining quarterback of the top three on his board at four is Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M, so that’s the guy McShay has the Browns selecting. Given the meteoric importance that hand size has garnered recently, McShay addresses Manziel’s by saying his hands are plenty big enough to grasp the ball in cold weather. So … there’s that.

I’m not budging from my pick. I think the Browns should take receiver Sammy Watkins of Clemson.

At 26, McShay picks Brandin Cooks of Oregon. Cooks is only 5-foot-9 3/4, but he’s been timed at 4.33 in the 40 and he had the fastest time at the combine. He caught 128 passes for 1,730 yards and 16 touchdowns last season in Oregon. Impressive numbers.

I’d still prefer Watkins with Josh Gordon, and a quarterback and running back Carlos Hyde later. Brian Hoyer can hold the fort; his experience helps. Gordon and Watkins would be a dynamic tandem, and Hyde and a free agent could be an effective tandem at running back. This was my position the night of the Orange Bowl, and it remains so today.

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