As anyone who watched the NFL in 2016 knows all too well, there are only a few truly great quarterbacks currently active in the league. Brandin Cooks will be lucky enough to catch passes from two of them.
The New Orleans Saints drafted Cooks in 2014, meaning the first NFL quarterback he worked with was 10-time Pro Bowl selection Drew Brees. With Brees slinging him the ball, the speedy wide receiver quickly blossomed into a star for New Orleans, racking up 215 receptions, 2,861 receiving yards and 20 touchdown catches over his first three pro seasons.
Brees is an excellent quarterback. But Cooks’ new QB is even better.
Last Friday, the Saints traded the 23-year-old to the New England Patriots, who boast arguably the greatest signal-caller in NFL history in Tom Brady.
Needless to say, Cooks isn’t complaining.
“To come into the league right away and to play with a Hall of Fame quarterback, that alone is going to boost your career right away,” Cooks said Wednesday in his introductory conference call. “I have nothing but high praise for Drew. He’s a workaholic, a guy that pays attention to the game, so detailed.
“So as a young guy, to be able to have that takes some things off your plate. I feel like other young guys, when they come into the league, don’t necessarily have that. So it was a blessing to be able to play with him, and at the same time, he helped me learn about the game more from an overall standpoint. That was very helpful.
“So to come in (to New England) and now have the opportunity to play for another Hall of Fame quarterback — I guess I know how to pick quarterbacks, right?”
Though he’ll be 40 by the time the 2017 season begins, Brady remains at the top of his game. He’s coming off one of the best statistical seasons of his storied career — one in which he finished second in NFL MVP voting and led the Patriots to their fifth Super Bowl title since 2002.
“I’m looking forward to it,” said Cooks, who was 6 years old when Brady entered the league in 2000. “I’ve followed Tom Brady since I was a kid, so to be able to have a chance to play with him is awesome.”
Cooks joins a deep Patriots receiving corps that features a 1,000-yard wideout in Julian Edelman, a bona fide deep threat in Chris Hogan and a promising second-year pro in Malcolm Mitchell. He declined to speculate on how he might be used in New England’s offense but said he’s comfortable lining up in the slot if asked to.
“I’d rather not go into detail,” Cooks said. “But as far as playing in the slot, I definitely think that I can do that at a high level. It will be all about what Coach (Bill) Belichick and the offense think I can fit well at and just doing my job as best as I can.”
Thumbnail photo via Chuck Cook/USA TODAY Sports Images