Player interviews at the NFL Combine delivered the excitement level usually reserved for receiving a mousepad as a gift.
Polite, nice enough, the thought counts. But, boring, really.
Then, Oregon State wide receiver Brandin Cooks hit one of the stages off to the side. He leaned forward, gripping both sides of the podium with his hands when he spoke.
He was not simply happy to be at the Combine. Cooks was in Indianapolis to open eyes.
Cooks projected a “low 4.3 to a mid-4.3” in the 40-yard dash. He popped a 4.33, second-best at the combine.
He was the top performer in the 20- and 60-yard shuttle drills.
The guess is he also did well in the interviews, where he wanted to get across a main point.
“I’m confident, and that’s that,” Cooks said. “What I say is what I’m going to do, and that’s my plan, is to step out there and put my word on the line.”
Cooks will be tagged with the undersized label after he measured 5-foot-9 and 189 pounds at the Combine.
Yet, that was plenty of size to help him go off his junior year with the Beavers.
He made 128 catches for 1,730 yards, which was good enough to earn him the Biletnikoff Award. It was his second consecutive 1,000-yard plus receiving season in Corvallis.
In talking to Mike Riley, he made a few interesting points about Cooks during effusive praise.
First was that Cooks initially committed to UCLA. Not a surprise since he’s from Stockton, Calif. After looking around more, Cooks decided on Oregon State.
“From the moment I’ve really gotten to know Brandin, when we were in the process of recruiting him, I thought him to be a very thoughtful person,” Riley told the News Tribune. “Kids make choices about a school for a lot of different reasons. But, I think that we ended up getting him because he was very thoughtful about how he would fit in and what he wanted to do as a receiver in college football and he liked our system.
“He studied football as to his fit and made a decision based on that. When a guy has the choices he had and really looks at his fit on the football end of it, it’s a little bit unusual for a 17-year-old to do that, because there’s so many other factors.”
It’s expected Riley — one of the most affable coaches there is — would say positive things about Cooks. So, we’ll take all praise with a grain of salt.
But, Riley was emphatic when talking about Cooks, from work ethic to attitude to skill. When listening to Riley, it’s easy to envision the Seahawks looking at these list of attributes and feeling this is the type of player who would fit in.
“I’ve always found him to believe that football is really important to him,” Riley said. “Then, everything after that, with Brandin, has been really just an absolute joy to be around. A high-, high-character guy. Never a glitch here. Never even close to even hearing about him being in trouble. Always tremendously respectful of everybody around him. The equipment room guys, all the people that we come in contact with traveling. His representation of our university and program are at the highest level.
“I just think he’s a terrific young man. Then his drive, almost obsession to be good, was always there. Tremendously hard worker. Tremendous student of the game. Wanted to always get better. Fun, fun to coach. Always a good attitude. Always a great approach to practice. Smile on his face and a bounce in his step. Every day was the same with Brandin Cooks. He’ll be a great pro. He’ll be a professional right away and they’ll never have to worry about him. He’ll be one of their hardest working guys and he’ll produce.
“He’s a no-brainer.”
After agreeing there are several excellent wide receivers in the draft, Cooks said he thinks he’s the best one. Then, this, which again conjures thoughts of a certain Seahawks player or two.
“Numbers don’t lie,” Cooks said. “I feel like no one is out there working harder than me. I have a lot to prove. I have a chip on my shoulder. 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, who’s killing the game right now. DeSean Jackson. I can go down the list, and there’s guys under 5-10 that are definitely great receivers in this game.”
Most projections have Cooks being drafted late in the first round. Mel Kiper has him all the way up 17th. Todd McShay has him at 26, as does Sports Illustrated.
His rise after the Combine makes it less likely he’ll be around when the Seahawks select 32nd. If he is, he could be an interesting fit.