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Cook offers long-range accuracy, short-range question marks

Connor Cook led Michigan State on a winning 22-play, 82-yard drive in the fourth quarter of the Big Ten championship game against Iowa in December. Aaron Doster/USA TODAY Sports

Connor Cook has a résumé that would appear to be tough to top. He is Michigan State’s all-time winningest quarterback with a 34-5 record since his first start in 2013. He also set school records for career passing yards (9,194) and touchdowns (71).

Some draft projections cite Cook’s experience in a pro-style offense as a reason he could go late in the first round, but others point to his inconsistent accuracy as grounds for him falling out of the first night of the draft.

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Greatest strength: Arm strength

Cook has shown he can move the chains with his arm. Beginning with the start of the 2014 season, more than half of his throws were at least one yard past the first-down marker. He completed 54.6 percent of those passes, third-best among Power 5 quarterbacks who played both seasons.

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Cook tied the Michigan State record with 10 300-yard pass games in his three years as a starter due, in part, to his ability to throw downfield. His 50 completions on 20-yard throws since 2014 are tied for the fourth-most by a Power 5 quarterback in that time.

Cook improved his accuracy on such throws each season, increasing his completion percentage from 2013 (31.1 percent) to 2014 (39.6 percent) and again from 2014 to 2015 (48.4 percent).

His improved accuracy on 20-yard throws between 2013 and 2015 was third-best among Power 5 quarterbacks during that time (behind Brandon Allen and Trevone Boykin).

Among Cook’s qualities that NFL teams like is his experience in a pro-style offense. Of his snaps taken in 2015, 22 percent were from under center, the 11th-highest percentage among Power 5 quarterbacks (minimum 100 snaps).

Greatest weakness: Short-range accuracy

It is perhaps counterintuitive that Cook has shown accuracy with the deep ball but inconsistency with easier throws. Over the last two seasons, Cook has the fourth-worst completion percentage among Power 5 quarterbacks on passes thrown 10 yards or shorter.

Cook’s accuracy also suffers when he’s under pressure. Last season, Cook completed 33.8 percent of his passes when under pressure, which put him in the lower third of Power 5 quarterbacks.

Cook faced the blitz on a Big Ten-high 34 percent of his dropbacks (Power 5 average: 26 percent). Although his completion percentage against the blitz lagged the Power 5 average, his QBR in those situations was better than the Power 5 average.