Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
The Kansas City Chiefs are coming off an impressive 2013 campaign, their first under head coach Andy Reid. In winning their first nine games of the season, they finished with an 11-5 mark. Unfortunately, things went south in a hurry in the playoffs, when the team's most productive offensive weapon, AFC rushing leader Jamaal Charles, suffered an early 1st quarter concussion. Despite a remarkable performance by QB Alex Smith and adequate red zone production from backup RB Knile Davis, the Chiefs were unable to control the clock by maintain drives down the stretch, squandering a 28 point 3rd quarter lead to the Indianapolis Colts, in a humiliating 44-45 opening round loss on the road.
The off-season hasn't been much kinder, with the departure of several key contributors on both sides of the ball, including two to the Atlanta Falcons; OG Jon Asamoah and former LSU standout DE Tyson Jackson. In addition, OG Geoff Schwartz - who combined with Asamoah to start all 16 regular season games on the right side - is now a New York Giant, while Branden Albert, the team's Pro Bowl LT, signed a lucrative new deal with the Miami Dolphins. To their credit, the Chiefs were able to exact a small measure of revenge against the Colts, landing promising 5th year veteran Jeff Linkenbach as a suitable replacement at guard. They've also done a nice job of beefing up their interior DL depth, with the additions of DTs Cory Grissom and Vance Walker. That said, DE remains an area of concern, as does OT and OL depth in general.
And that's just getting them back to square one in the trenches.
Prior to all of the aforementioned player movement, the one position that truly screamed Achilles' heel was wide receiver. Aside from a seemingly pointless trade with the San Francisco 49ers - one that essentially resulted in former first round busts A.J. Jenkins and Jonathan Baldwin swapping ZIP codes - absolutely nothing has been done to address this glaring shortcoming. In fact, the problem may have actually been exacerbated, when former scatback turned WR Dexter McCluster signed with Tennessee Titans.
In addition, Dwayne Bowe, the team's leading receiver three of the last four seasons, has plead guilty to lesser charges of defective equipment and littering, in order to get a marijuana possession charge dismissed. As of this moment, career journeyman Donnie Avery is the only surefire bet to be a Week 1 starter and he didn't even crack the top 70 in receiving yards last season. Even the worst WR2 in the league should theoretically be ranked 64th overall and we're potentially talking about a WR1 going in. That's scary. And on a team that's expected to keep pace with Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers in the AFC West, no less. Believe me, I'm as huge an advocate of establishing the run as you're going to find, but that's simply not going to happen without some semblance of offensive balance. Opposing teams will simply stack the box and that's going to be even easier to accomplish, now that Albert's out of the mix up front.
In a perfect world, there would be a stud LT still on the board at the 24th overall slot. Unfortunately, we don't live in a perfect world and neither do the Chiefs. Mercury Morris should have told you as much, when their perfect season went up in smoke last November. Or when the Dolphins selected Notre Dame's Zack Martin at 20th overall in this mock draft, effectively eliminating the last OT/OG I would have considered this early on. *angrily shakes fist at Letloosethedogsofwar (whoever that is). Some may present an argument for UCLA's Xavier Su'a Filo at this spot. Four quick points to the contrary: a.) as a pure guard, Su'a Filo lacks the swingman versatility lost in Albert, b.) pure guards of equal or slightly lesser talent can be found in subsequent rounds, c.) even if I was in the market for a pure guard, it would be for purposes of depth, and d.) depth is nothing to be reaching for in the first round, unless you're squared away at every other starting position.
Likewise, there are no DEs that grade out in this range and it's not like Tyson Jackson was a game changing element at that position anyway. Despite their epic meltdown against Andrew Luck, the defense is bound to remain stout in 2014 and continue to afford coach Reid the opportunity to play conservatively on offense. That's how he ran things in Philly for the last decade with multi-purpose backs, such as Duce Staley, Brian Westbrook and LeSean McCoy, and that's how he'll inevitably continue to run things in Kansas City with Jamaal Charles as his centerpiece. Of course, conservative play does not exclude the pass. Charles led the team in both receptions and receiving yards last season, the first Chiefs RB to ever do so. And they've had their fair share of great ones over the years.
Oregon State's Brandin Cooks is a player whose stock is clearly on the rise. A consensus All-American for the Beavers, he won the 2013 Fred Biletnikoff Award, an honor bestowed upon the nation's best collegiate wide receiver. He is a special athlete with explosive feet and a natural burst. He has exhibited fluid body control with excellent start/stop moves, open-field vision and patient hesitation to elude defenders. Exceptional acceleration and agility with the game speed to burn, he is electric after the catch. A sure-handed receiver who adjusts and plucks on the fly. He shows good coordination in looking the ball into his mitts. Also, quick footwork to set up his routes and fool defenders into biting on stop-and-go moves. He has worked hard to fine-tune this aspect of his game. By all accounts, he is a good egg with an engaging personality and no off-the-field character concerns. He is devoted to the weight room and works hard to max out his frame.
The biggest knock against Cook is his size, which is generously listed at 5'10" 189 lbs. That said, McCluster was only 5'8" 170 lbs himself and was able to carve out a respectable niche for himself, with 120 all-purpose touches a season ago. Like McCluster, Cooks brings added value to the table as a dynamic kickoff returns specialist. This effectively kills two birds with one stone, as it remains unclear what the Chiefs are planning to do about that current void on special teams anyway. Cooks has been compared favorably to Tavon Austin, the first round pick of St. Louis Rams a year ago. While Austin's rookie season wasn't anything to write home about on the whole, it's important to remember that the latter half of it was played without his starting QB, Sam Bradford, under center. Despite this, Austin managed to breathe new life into Kellen Clemens's career with a monster all-purpose game at Lucas Oil Stadium against the Colts. So, even if that's an indication of all we can expect out of Cooks in 2014, I'm sure the Chiefs would welcome him with open arms.
I personally have Cooks ranked as the third best overall WR in this draft, slightly behind Mike Evans. As such, I would have selected him over USC's Marquis Lee, even if the Philadelphia Eagles (organictallman) hadn't. The Chiefs have a peculiar recent history of selecting LSU players in the first round, including the aforementioned Bowe (2007) and Jackson (2009), as well as DT Glenn Dorsey (2008), so an Odell Beckham Jr. pick here would not outright surprise me. However, with two of those three former Tigers already out of the picture in Kansas City and Bowe continuing to tread on thin ice, I suspect they might think twice before placing an early round call to one of Les Miles's boys again. Kelvin Benjamin is another WR prospect at least worthy of consideration. In the end, I strongly believe Cook is the best fit for the Chiefs and will ultimately help them maintain their competitive fire in the hotly contested, talent-laden AFC West.
Thanks to all the CSC members who participated in this year's community mock draft. Without your help, none of this would be possible.
Below are the complete results from our community mock draft.
Catch up with all of the mock draft selections in our 2014 CSC Community Mock Draft Hub.
|Pick||Team||Selection||Team Representative||Approval Rating|
QB Teddy Bridgewater - Louisville
|2||St. Louis Rams||DE Jadeveon Clowney - South Carolina||Kevin Sean Held||57%|
|3||Jacksonville Jaguars||QB Johnny Manziel - Texas A&M||Alex Swift||59%|
|4||Cleveland Browns||WR Sammy Watkins - Clemson||Shadow Flash||80%|
|5||Oakland Raiders||LB Khalil Mack - Buffalo||Khannar||71%|
|6||Atlanta Falcons||OT Greg Robinson - Auburn||Dave Choate||80%|
|7||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||QB Blake Bortles - UCF||russty||31%|
|8||Minnesota Vikings||CB Justin Gilbert - Oklahoma St.||JackMarzullo||50%|
|9||Buffalo Bills||OT Jake Matthews - Texas A&M||Letloosethedogsofwar||88%|
|10||Detroit Lions||WR Mike Evans - Texas A&M||Monkey Poop Battle||49%|
|11||Tennessee Titans||LB Anthony Barr - UCLA||Lostastic||60%|
|12||NY Giants||TE Eric Ebron - UNC||Khannar||78%|
|13||St. Louis Rams||S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix - Alabama||hooahsaint2.0||74%|
|14||Chicago Bears||NT Aaron Donald - Pittsburgh||BlackandGold4ever||82%|
|15||Pittsburgh Steelers||NT Louis Nix III - Notre Dame||saintmanumit||36%|
|16||Dallas Cowboys||DE Kony Ealy - Missouri||Ryan Edwards||63%|
|17||Baltimore Ravens||OT Taylor Lewan - Michigan||Tee Word||66%|
|18||NY Jets||CB Darqueze Dennard - Michigan State||Monkey Poop Battle||62%|
|19||Miami Dolphins||OL Zack Martin - Notre Dame||Letloosethedogsofwar||74%|
|20||Arizona Cardinals||QB Derek Carr - Fresno State||Alex Swift||72%|
|21||Green Bay Packers||S Calvin Pryor - Louisville||BlackandGold4ever|
|22||Philadelphia Eagles||WR Marqise Lee - USC||organictallman|
|23||Kansas City Chiefs||WR Brandin Cooks - Oregon St.||coldpizza|
|25||San Diego Chargers||Lostastic|
|26||Cleveland Browns||Shadow Flash|
|27||New Orleans Saints||Dave Cariello|
|28||Carolina Panthers||Ryan Edwards|
|29||New England Patriots||Shadow Flash|
|30||San Francisco 49ers||saintmanumit|
|31||Denver Broncos||Alex Swift|