What did former Michigan State Spartans quarterback @Connor Cook have to say about finally being selected in the 2016 NFL Draft?
Q: How surprised were you when the Raiders called?
Cook: “I was pretty surprised because I think Dallas was interested in me and they were trying to trade up and I think they couldn’t do it. Then as soon as I saw Oakland trade up, I was talking to my agent and he said they were taking a quarterback. Looking at it, Derek Carr is obviously a great quarterback. [I’m] going to go in there and learn from him, trying to compete obviously, and you have great guys on offense. You have Amari Cooper, you have some other guys and your playmakers at running back and tight end and all that other stuff. I’m glad that I found a home. It was a little bit of a wait, but I’m glad the whole process is over. The whole coaching staff, the ownership there, [Head] Coach [Jack] Del Rio, [General Manager] Mr. [Reggie] McKenzie, talked with [quarterbacks] coach [Todd] Downing already. I’m just happy to be a Raider. I’m looking forward to it. Being out in California is a little better than Ohio weather-wise. Just looking forward to it.”
Q: How tough were these last two days seeing other quarterbacks getting picked ahead of you?
Cook: “Yeah, anytime you see another quarterback get drafted in front of you, it hurts. I’m a competitor. Obviously, I think I’m one of the best quarterbacks in this draft class, but nothing is ever easy and nothing is ever perfect. Everything that I’ve been able to accomplish at Michigan State is never easy. Going on to the NFL, it’s definitely going to get a little bit harder and more difficult. It’s definitely not going to be easy. Obviously, seeing all the other quarterbacks go, it hurt, but I’m just ready to be a Raider and ready to get to business.”
Q: Does being available on the third day humble you?
Cook: “It’s a lot of motivation. I would say more motivation than anything. Like you said, seeing all the other quarterbacks go when you think you’re a pretty good quarterback, it just motivates you. I’m going to go into this league with a chip on my shoulder and try to earn everything that I achieve.”
Q: What was the conversation like with Todd Downing?
Cook: “Oh it was really laid back. He was just saying that he was looking forward to getting an opportunity to coach me, looking forward to me getting into those facilities and getting to know everyone, and just congratulating me on being a Raider.”
Q: Did you hear from fellow Michigan State draft pick Shilique Calhoun yet?
Cook: “Oh yeah, I called him right away and we talked for a little bit and congratulated each other. I told him, ‘Hey man, looks like we can’t stay away from each other for too long,’ and he was laughing about it, but it’s cool being close to a guy like that. He was in my class, came in with me at Michigan State. Everyone in Michigan State, our whole class was super tight, so getting an opportunity to still be with him, it’s a blessing.”
Q: What do you know about the history of the Oakland Raiders?
Cook: “That it’s up-and-coming. Obviously, they competed for a Super Bowl back in the day against [former Head] Coach [Jon] Gruden and Rich Gannon [was] at quarterback. They had some really good years back in the day. Now they’re up-and-coming with [Head] Coach [Jack] Del Rio and [General Manager] Mr. [Reggie] McKenzie, all those guys with the young and up-and-coming core group of guys on the team. I’m looking forward to it. There’s nothing but good days ahead with this organization. I’m looking forward to being a part of it.”
Q: A lot of people have been questioning your leadership skills. What’s your response to this and what you can say about your leadership skills?
Cook: “I don’t think you can win that many games and be that successful at a program without being a leader. I think all that stuff was so far from the truth. Everything will work itself out. People want to talk and say all that stuff, but they’ve never even sat down to talk to me or get to know me as a person. We were successful for a reason and that’s pretty much all I have to say. I’m just looking forward to this whole new journey and getting a chance to be a part of a great organization and go out there and compete.”