The NFL Scouting Combine is finally here! All 32 teams have descended upon Indianapolis looking for their future stars, and the draft prospects have showed up looking to make a distinct impression. Oregon State has joined the fray with three players at the Combine in Sean Harlow, Victor Bolden Jr., and Treston Decoud. Despite being fairly under-the-radar, all three players have an opportunity to win over future employers with strong performances and better interviews.
Ironically enough, however, the three future NFL players aren’t the former OSU stars making news at the Combine.
As it turns out, Saints star receiver Brandin Cooks may soon be on the move. Both NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported Thursday that Cooks was the subject of trade talks and that the Titans and Eagles were potential suitors.
Given Cooks’ production as a member of the Saints (215 receptions for 2,861 yards and 20 touchdowns), it seems odd that he would be on the move after being a first round draft pick. Once you examine the situation, however, it actually begins to make more sense.
First off, NFL Insider Ian Rapoport reported back in December that Cooks was frustrated with his diminished role in the Saints offense and lack of downfield strikes from Drew Brees. This report came as rookie Michael Thomas was becoming Brees’ favorite target and was leading the team in touchdowns. The hubbub eventually died down as the Saints finished their season 7-9 and out of the playoffs once again. However, rumors still occasionally popped up regarding Cooks’ availability.
Second, Saints head coach Sean Payton didn’t exactly shut down the story on Thursday with his comments to the Saints official website.
“Brandin is someone who we value tremendously in our system,” Payton said. “He’s been extremely productive. He’s everything we were wanting when we drafted him. These news items come up and there are a lot of meetings that take place here."
Payton continued by giving a slight non-answer about Cooks’ future in New Orleans.
“I wouldn’t say he’s on the trade block, but certainly when a team calls -- a team that’s looking for a receiver and we’re looking to improve our defense -- we’re always listening.”
Payton finished by saying that he was very comfortable with Cooks in a Saints uniform, which seems to be a final answer. Although, he did say that GM Mickey Loomis has probably spoken with multiple other teams and that trading for Cooks would take something significant.
Translation: throw New Orleans a first-round draft choice and get a receiver in return.
If Cooks does indeed move on to a different team, he would be well suited in either Philly or Tennessee. Both places have established rushing attacks, improving defenses, and young franchise quarterbacks. He would immediately become the main target for either Carson Wentz or Marcus Mariota, and he would pair nicely with their strong, accurate arms. Plus, just imagine what Cooks could do with the existing receivers in each offense. He could form a downright scary duo with either Rishard Matthews (Titans) or Jordan Matthews (Eagles). The move might actually be easier for the Eagles to pull off considering that they are the proud owners of two first-round picks in this year’s draft (Minnesota traded its pick to Philly for Sam Bradford).
The NFL Scouting Combine continues through Monday, so there will be plenty of opportunities for the Saints to make a deal. However, don’t expect a trade to happen until the league year begins on March 9th. The CBA doesn’t prohibit trades from happening before this date, but teams still prefer to figure out their Free Agent situations before making a splashy move like trading for a stellar receiver.