25% Through The Brandin Cooks Audition: Long Way To Go

When the Patriots traded their 2017 First and 2017 Third Round Picks to the New Orleans Saints for Brandin Cooks and a 2017 Fourth Round Pick, it set the stage for a franchise altering decision.  The Patriots gained a thorough-bred, speedy receiver.  The likes of which they have not seen since Randy Moss (At least according to Robert Kraft).  The prospect of having such a talent under contract for at least the next two years is mouthwatering…IF he is the real deal.  

My question is simple:  Has Brandin Cooks done enough to warrant a significant extension after this initial two year stretch?  If the answer is yes, the trade was a success.  If the answer is no….things are a little more murky.

The Eyeball Test – I see Cooks as a good receiver…I have seen stretches of greatness, but not consistently enough.  His speed comes as advertised, and he has made the offense better at attacking the medium and deep parts of the field.  He won the Houston game by himself.   Does anyone else think he has too many drops?  I just don’t have the impression of him being SUPER reliable with pass catching.  He has been SUPER reliable at being healthy.  With over 90% of snaps played.  We can count ourselves lucky that he seems to understand the offense (Looking at you Chad Ochocinco, Doug Gabriel and Joey Galloway, etc.)  
Overall, I just thought he would be a bigger part of the offense.  He is a good piece for sure, but certainly not the straw that stirs the drink.

The Stats Say:  Cooks had his two best seasons in 2015 and 2016.  Those will be the measurement for his production.

Brandin Cooks:

2015 Full Season:  84 Receptions, 1,138 Yards, 9 Tuddies
2016 Full Season: 78 Receptions, 1,173 Yards, 8 Tuddies
Half Way Through 2017:  33 Receptions, 563 Yards, 3 Tuddies
Projected 2017 Full Season:  66 Receptions, 1,126 Yards, 6 Tuddies

So unless he has a killer second half of the season, Cooks will come in with a performance comparable to his best seasons, albeit perhaps a little below that standard.  

For comparison, let’s look at Randy Moss’s best years as a Patriot

Randy Moss:

2007 Full Season: 98 Receptions, 1,493 Yards, 23 Tuddies
2008 Full Season:  69 Receptions, 1,008 Yards, 11 Tuddies
2009 Full Season: 83 Receptions, 1,264 Yards, 3 Tuddies

This is what I’m talking about.  The numbers show how much more Moss was a part of the offense on a regular basis, and how much more of a red zone target he was.

The Verdict:  I think if Cooks were to continue at this current rate of production, it would be a very close call whether the Patriots would extend him with a considerable financial commitment.  If you pay that much, you expect a true, blue #1 receiver.  I just don’t think Cooks has proven that to this point.