It looks like former Michigan State Spartans quarterback Connor Cook has become the whipping boy of the 2016 NFL Draft. Cook, who finished his career as the program's all-time winningest quarterback winning two Big Ten Championship Game, a Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, Rose Bowl and Cotton Bowl, has seen many find little areas to attack the Ohio native since the start of his senior season.
Over the years we’ve seen players like Randy Moss, Warren Sapp and others find their draft status drop due to off field issues. Cook on the other hand, was not named a captain during his career as a Spartan and for that, some want the masses to believe he’s got a major character flaw.
For me, I’ve had the chance to interview and talk privately with Cook since 2010. I've met his parents and know the type of young person they raised. In that time, Connor has always been gracious with his time even when it was not an interview situation or when we’ve just ran into each other when I’ve been on the Michigan State campus.
While some might feel the criticism of Cook only started during the Big Ten Championship Game MVP trophy presentation and the situation with Archie Griffin, it actually started in preseason when Cook was not named a captain for his senior season.
From that point on draft pundits from near and far looked to slash away the body of work Cook had done on the field and the respect he earned from his coaches and teammates. All while keeping his nose clean off the field while earning his degree.
Having known Mark Dantonio for the length of time I’ve known him. I can’t believe he would place a person with character issues at the helm of his team. Also knowing playing quarterback at Michigan State is not just about going out and throwing the football, but knowing what to do, Cook must have been doing something right the past three years to earn and remain the programs top signal caller.
Now, because he passed on playing in the Senior Bowl, Cook is being hit with another round of attacks.
Instead of playing in the game, Cook is on the west coast training with George Whitfield like many quarterbacks do. While his absence was not listed as injury related, it has always been up to the players if they wanted to participate in these type of events.
For some players, agents advise them to stay away to avoid the risk of injury with the NFL Combine and pro days at their schools being more important.
For Cook, the decision not to attend is his and his representatives right if they feel it was not in his best interest. But to have reports that former Spartan teammates reportedly say their praise of Cook has been less than “effusive”, takes things to a whole new level.
At least Darien Harris stepped forward and spoke his mind about his former teammate and hopefully others do as well.
In the end, Cook’s future as an NFL quarterback should be based on his ability to throw the football, understand what a team’s offensive coordinator is wanting out of his quarterback and to win games. Something he’s proven over the past three years he’s fully capable of doing without being a side show off the field.
That is my opinion on the matter having known Connor Cook for more than just his past three seasons of play at Michigan State.