Welcome To The Big Show: Chris Cook

[EDITOR’S NOTE:  Over the next few weeks, we will be unveiling some in-depth articles that allow you to better know the newest Vikings draft class and undrafted free agents.  These articles are not intended to be “fluff pieces” like you will find elsewhere, but rather a comprehensive look at each of them as a person and as a football player.]

The Vikings used their first pick of the draft, the second pick of the second round, on Virginia cornerback Christopher O’Shea Cook.  A native of Virginia, Cook has always displayed a great amount of athleticism and in high school was used as a running back, wide out, quarterback, and defensive utility player.  In his junior year, Cook notched 50 tackles and eight interceptions.  He was voted an All-State player in his junior and senior seasons.

Cook was heavily recruited by Virginia as he exited high school.  In his first five games as a freshman, he played as a backup cornerback and safety.  In that time he picked off a pass against Maryland and returned it 30 yards for a touchdown.  The next week, Virginia made him a starter as they prepared to face Boston College.

It was then that Cook’s football career hit its first major speed bump.  He broke his leg and had to miss the rest of his freshman year.

In 2006 and 2007, Cook’s career was productive but not overly impressive.  In 2008, he was suspended by his college for Academic reasons.

After being suspended, Cook bounced back to have his best season yet in 2009 in which he was voted in as a captain.  He started each game at left cornerback where he picked up 40 tackles (1 for a loss), had four interception (1 for a TD), knocked down six passes, and even had some kickoff return experience.  This production came despite a nagging groin injury.

Stats Overview
Tackles
Misc
Interceptions
YEAR
TOT
SOLO
AST
SACK
STF
STFY
FF
BK
INT
YDS
AVG
LNG
TD
PD
2005
6
5
1
0
0
0
0
0
1
30
30.0
30
1
0
2006
58
46
12
0
0
0
1
0
1
0
0.0
0
0
0
2007
39
25
14
0
0
0
0
0
1
25
25.0
25
0
0
2009
40
34
6
0
0
0
0
0
4
66
16.5
58
1
0

At the combine, Cook performed in a way that immediately put him on Al Davis’ radar.  At 6’ 2” and 212 lbs, Cook was second only to Brandon Ghee in the 40 yard dash when he ran it at 4.46.  He also topped all prospects of any position in the broad jump (11’ 0”).

The Vikings decided to make the 23 year-old Cook their first pick of the 2010 draft in order to help shore up a secondary that could use the help with Antoine Winfield getting older and Cedric Griffin still recovering from an ACL injury.

Despite being an early pick, there is no guarantee that Cook will start for the Vikings this year, even if Griffin is sidelined for the entire season.  Antoine Winfield, Cook, Benny Sapp, Asher Allen, and newly-signed Lito Sheppard will all be jockeying for position in what will surely be one of the most anticipated training camp battles of the year.  If Griffin does somehow make it back, then that only adds another interesting level of competition.

While first year corners often struggle, Cook does have one attribute that plays to his advantage when competing for his berth on the depth chart:  size.  Cedric Griffin was previously the Vikings biggest cornerback at 6’ 0” and 203 pounds.

If Griffin is not ready to compete at the beginning of the year, then Cook’s size can give him a significant advantage over Lito Sheppard (5’ 10”, 194 lbs.), Benny Sapp (5’ 9”, 190 lbs.), and Asher Allen (5’ 9”, 194 lbs.).  There is no doubt that Cook has the speed and size to compete for a starting gig on this roster from day one, but he will have to prove himself in other areas prior to being given the honor over other, more experienced guys on the roster.

Cook’s professional career begins with a hitch before it even gets started.  Many fans question the wisdom of taking him over the consensus #2 quarterback in the draft, Jimmy Clausen.  Unfortunately for Cook, this adds a whole other level of pressure for him to be successful as fans will be less forgiving if he struggles… especially if Clausen succeeds in Carolina.

Putting aside the fact that this pick is not necessarily a fan favorite, Cook has been drafted into a scheme that may play to his abilities quite nicely.  Cook is known for being a very active player that flies around the field defending both the pass and the run.  He is solid when called upon to jam a receiver at the line which throws off the timing of the route, something that is highly coveted in the Vikings two deep scheme.

He also has pretty good instincts and makes plays on the ball, which is something that has been missing from the Vikings secondary in recent years.  The Vikings cornerbacks only managed to snag six interceptions during the 2009 season, four of which came from the currently injured Cedric Griffin. 

Putting aside all the praise, Cook also comes with some doubts and was viewed by scouts as a “risky move” which is probably the ultimate reason he ended up a second tier (and second round) cornerback.

First, Cook has not been dependable throughout most of his career.  The fact that he missed time because of a broken leg (2005), a sprained knee (2007), academic suspension (2008), and a groin injury (Senior Bowl) naturally makes a person question his long term dependability.

While he is widely regarded as an above average tackler, people have thought he should be even better in this aspect given his size than he actually is.  While he had a great Combine workout, the scuttle is that he does not play as fast as he ran the forty, and that putting him on an island with a top NFL receiver could prove disastrous.

Use the following tape for example.  You will notice that Clemson avoids throwing in his direction almost completly, however, they seem perfectly content to run right at him.  You will notice Cook’s soft zone coverage, an incredible ability to avoid making a tackle, and a hesitant player that seems to be afraid of something:

Cook will need some coaching to be successful at the next level.  He tends to shuffle to the side instead of back peddle when covering a receiver down field.  This results in a player that Vikings fans are all too familiar with, somebody who gives the receiver the room to make the catch in front of him and then promptly makes the tackle.

In the end, Cook is most likely someone that will have minimal impact on defense (should help on special teams immediately) in his rookie season, but has the potential to develop into a dangerous defender.  I could be wrong, but unless the Vikings feel the need to move Winfield into the nickel position sooner rather than later, I have my doubts that Cook will even be able to be listed higher than fourth on the cornerback depth chart.

My guess is that he’ll end up being a rotational guy in 2010, who comes in to play on the outside in nickel and dime situations.  That is just a guess, however, and by making this pick the Vikings have set us fans up with a very exciting position battle to follow throughout training camp.

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27 Responses to “Welcome To The Big Show: Chris Cook”

  1. fozz44 says:

    Adam, great info, thanks.

    I wasn’t impressed on the tape I saw of him at the combine…..as he looked slow on his feet and with his reflexes. His 40 speed was actually a surprise to me, as he looked slow in many clips.

    That said, he was forecasted to be a late 1st- to late 2nd round pick by most experts, after missing all of 2008. I like that. His size, speed, and athleticism are things to be excited about. This team has FAILed at finding quality corners in the draft (have they ever drafted a CB that become a pro-bowler?). Cook could be an answer to that…especially with an already solid d and potential mentoring from Antoine and Lito.

  2. bigjohnny84 says:

    Geesh, please tell me this was his worst game ever. He reminds me of a certain #27 that used to play for us. This guy isnt aggressivee at all. Got a bad feeling on this dude.

  3. Viking John says:

    Nice article Adam.
    Go Vikes

  4. CalVkg says:

    i thought we needed to take a qb. maybe Ryan Perrilloux will be it

    • Fran the Man says:

      Perrilloux is a very interesting prospect.
      I hope Adam does a piece on him. Looks like the kid has some real potential if he can keep his head on straight.
      Here’s a brief desription of him;

      “Quarterback Ryan Perrilloux has experienced the fast lane but also the dirt path. He was once considered the best high school player in the nation. After starting his college career at L.S.U., he found trouble and transferred to Jacksonville State.”

      The rest of the story with some good video too.

      http://fifthdown.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/04/17/n-f-l-draft-the-road-back-for-ryan-perrilloux/

  5. krugjr says:

    Chris Cook CB Virginia
    TALENT BOARD

    Round 4

    ——————————————————————————–

    STRENGTHS

    Chris has those long legs that make it easy for him to cover man-on-man with just about any style of wide receiver in the NFL. He has excellent overall cover skills and looks to be a solid teammate. Chris is a tall cover corner and has the athletic ability to cover those fade patterns so many teams use in the red zone to score touchdowns. He has good body control when going up after the ball and shows decent hands for the interception. Chris has the height all teams are looking for in their corners to defend against the big receivers and pass catching tight ends and he will be drafted earlier than he should be for that reason and that reason only.

    NEEDS TO IMPROVE

    Chris is not very strong and not very aggressive in his run support. He shows a tendency to run around blocks and run himself out of tackles. When trailing a play, he gets there just after a tackle is made. I don’t think you can use him in a bump and run defensive scheme because he lacks upper and lower body strength. He also gets confused about his assignments in a zone scheme. That being said, he does have very good man-to-man cover skills. I know Chris has height and athletic talent to play corner at the next level, but there is no amount of height that will be a substitute for a lack of tackling ability.

    BOTTOM LINE

    I know Chris will be drafted because of his athletic talent and his size. I know Chris will be drafted in the first three rounds of this draft also because of these two measurables. I also know that Chris is going no place fast in the NFL unless he gets more aggressive and learns how to tackle. I don’t care how athletic or tall you are, you have to want to make the tackle and come up and support the run if you want to play at the next level. For a player with Chris’s lack of heart the initials “NFL” stands for “Not For Long”. You can be an excellent cover corner, but if you can’t tackle you will be just another player taking up space and waiting for someone to take your place.

    Drew Boylhart 3/10 The Huddle Report

    hmmmmmmmm GO VIKES!!!!!

    • Adam Warwas says:

      very interesting, Krug. That is by far the most negative report I have seen on the kid, but quite alarming none-the-less. Fromt he bit of work I have done on him, I don’t think he is THAT bad… but I know longer think he is capable of playing safety after seeing his tackling.

      When he makes a tackle, he seems to do it well (a lot to do with size) but he jsut seems so darn hesitant to actually get it done.

      Childress & Co. must see something that Boylhart and some others haven’t.

    • Fran the Man says:

      Yikes! Freds might be the only guy who will like him.

  6. olderthandirt says:

    HHHHHHmmmmmmm!!! Not what I wanted to hear krug. But then again, that’s only one man’s opinion. He could be wrong. Can one coach aggressiveness. We’ll have to ask Fred’s that I guess.

  7. 44for the hall says:

    About coaching aggressiveness. there’s an old clip of Bill Parcells (I think) talking about players being aggressive. He says if they don’t bite as puppies, they’re probably not going to bite as dogs.

  8. c.carterhof says:

    Dont like the pick, not impressed.

    I do like the Gerhart pick. After that Im clueless. Never heard of any of those other guys.

    Come to think of it Im clueless on all of the picks.

    • Fran the Man says:

      You’re not alone on that. A very confusing draft.
      All I can think of is the Vikes thought Robinson (The CB) would be there at 34.
      CB being the biggest need, they felt they had to take Cook (The ONLY player drafted that I had heard of)

      Looks like we may have gotten some good value though in the 4th round. I like the DE and the RB we picked up but sure wish we would have moved up and got Wilson before the Jets grabbed him.

  9. VAVike says:

    The draft lacked excitement. We filled some back up needs. We don’t need significant playing time out of any of them except Gerhart. He’s ready to play now, so that’s not a problem. We did not address DT, and I believe the UDFA from Clemson is better than the Wake draftee at guard. We have to figure out some things and decide if we are going to look into these veterans being cut(Henderson, Faneca, etc.)

    • Adam Warwas says:

      I agree that Austin (from Clemson) could out-compete Degreare (from Wake). I thought the same thing but was planning on milking a few stories and spread them out over a few days… so you’ll see a story about that coming up soon.

  10. Ole says:

    I’m happy the Vikings didn’t draft Clausen. After watching him play in person I was not impressed. Golden Tate was far and away the best player on that Notre Dame team.

    person to cheer for – Tyson Alualu from Hawaii drafted #10 by the Jags

    poor family from a rough neighborhood, hope he has a successful NFL career

  11. G.P. says:

    He just seems to lack the eat or be eaten mentality that good corners often possess. After, reviewing a number of his highlight reels it became apparent that he has yet, to cultivate a style of play that capitalizes on his size.
    The cookie seems a bit timid. I ask you, how is one supposed to induce fear in his opponents and play the mental game if he is afraid to in the words of Olivia Newton John “Get Physical”? Now fellas at this point I think you all know that I have an affinity for corners. I feel sometimes it can be an underrated position that requires an abundance of tenacity and the ability to attack both player and ball. This kid needs to build his fighter’s mentality as A matter of fact I know a kid that’s quite the little ferocious fighter (don’t you just love alteration?)See Allen, Asher. Come on you guys didn’t expect to go a whole comment without mentioning 21 did you? 27 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble, oh yes an interception as well. He may be small but he’s not afraid to get in and Bulldog a dude. Just saying Chris Cook is a big dude but he doesn’t scare me and it’s doubtful he’ll ever scare anyone else playing a slow to tackle and pound them sort of game.

  12. Ole says:

    G.P. = going deep with the Olivia Newton John analogy

    ….. people to blame – Jerkpepper

  13. VAVike says:

    Adam,
    I can understand everyones fear with Cook. I coached against him in the 2002 VHSL Division 4 State championship. His rep then was speed, and not physical play. I have watched him steadily improve at UVA. It’s only fair to say he’s going to get better. I think he trult projects to a FS in the nfl. The size and speed are a rare combination. Only time will tell, it’s still too early to judge. Can’t wait for the rest of the stories, you do a great job.

    • Adam Warwas says:

      VA, thanks for the kind words and thanks for the inside perspective. It is always nice to hear from someone with a first-hand perspective. (see: G.P. w/ Asher, and Ole ripping on Clausen / rooting for Alualu)

  14. Tony Pants says:

    goooooooooooooooooooooooood morning!

  15. Kevin says:

    He’s two years away from being able to really help the Vikings. Definatly looks a little soft. Hopefully Winfield and Griffin (next year) will teach him to play agressively. After signing Lito maybe we should have drafted an offensive lineman earlier.

  16. Great stuff Adam! I know i’ve sent many messages, but i haven’t heard back from u yet. You had mentioned in an e-mail that you like to work with other bloggers, and asked if I was interested in working with you. If you could please send an e-mail back that would be great! I currently can’t send e-mails cause it is down, but i can still receive them!

  17. Tony Pants says:

    They also said that Bumblebee was too small but the Autobots would not have taken Cybertron back without him.

  18. MarkSP18 says:

    I agree with VAVike and the scouting report from thehuddlereport.com.

    Cook looks to me like he will end up at FS. He definitely has a problem with wanting to tackle which is very important in our defense.

    He is a combine riser that wooed Frazier. I out this all on Frazier as it was his call. He nneds to do his job and coach this kid up. That is suppose to be Frazier’s specialty right? Coaching the DBs. Yet our pass defense is consistently ranked in the bottom third of the league.

    I think the Vikings blew it twice in this draft. First for having no plan for QBOTF and thus passing on Clausen. Chilly will live to regret that move. Second, since you do not want a QB, then get the CB you want in Robinson and don’t try to be smart and trade down and hope he is there. As an added bonus they draft a DE who was rated highly when we did not need it. We need a defensive tackle to add to the mix when PWill leaves and in case of suspension.

    Before anybody says that taking Griffen was the BPA because he was ranked so high, remember they did not take Clausen who was ranked higher than Cook.

    That argument does not work.

  19. [...] Vikings Gab Looks At Chris Cook – [EDITOR’S NOTE:  Over the next few weeks, we will be unveiling some in-depth articles that allow you to better know the newest Vikings draft class and undrafted free agents. [...]

  20. [...] that allow you to better know the newest Vikings draft class.  Click the links to read about Chris Cook, Toby Gerhart, Everson Griffen, Chris Degeare, Nate Triplett, Joe Webb, and Mickey [...]

  21. [...] is no stranger to misconduct.  His Draft stock took a hit when he was suspended at Virginia for academic reasons.  In May of 2011, a Virginia judge cleared him of any wrongdoing resulting [...]

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