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Thursday, March 27, 2014
Is WR Cooks on Steelers' draft radar?

By Scott Brown

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."