J. Cook selected by Titans in third round
It was a long Saturday night for former South Carolina football player Jared Cook, after being told he was a potential first day selection in the 2009 NFL draft. But when the first two rounds of the draft were done, Cook's name was nowhere to be found.
But all that changed in day two as Cook was in the third round for the 89th selection overall to the Tennessee Titans. While it wasn't the dream scenario he might have thought of when he declared for the draft, his selection could have been worth the wait.
"I was just going by my draft grade, third round but it's nice to hear that. But anything can happen on draft day," Cook said of his reason to leave early during USC's pro day event held in late March. "It's one of the craziest days in sports. So many things, it's so unpredictable so they talk but you really can't go by what they say."
Calls placed to Cook were not immediately returned on Saturday.
Cook, who was the first of seven Gamecock players to be selected in this year's draft, heads to Nashville to join the defending AFC South champion Titans as they used key picks in the draft to work on areas of need on the offensive side of the football.
Tennessee ran away from competition in the regular season last year with an offense that was regarded as one of the top rushing teams in the NFL. The backfield featured speedster Chris Johnson and power runner LenDale White as the duo combined for the seventh best rushing total in the NFL last year. Their success on the ground helped the team amass 2,199 yards rushing and a 13-3 record en route to winning the AFC South title.
While the ground game was highly successful, the Titans' passing game was designed to be limited and only used when needed. Veteran signal caller Kerry Collins was highly successful but the team finished 27th in the NFL in passing yards per game with 176.2 yards. They also had only one receiver with over 650 yards receiving (Justin Gage, 651 yards).
The Titans do have two veteran tight ends already on their roster in Bo Scaife and Alge Crumpler. In his fifth season with Titans, the former Texas standout has steadily improved, finishing the year as the second leading receiver on the team with 561 yards on 58 catches and two scores. Crumpler, who came over last season in a trade from Atlanta, caught 24 passes for 257 yards and a score.
That's where Cook comes in. Along with former Rutgers wide receiver Kenny Britt, the Titans used two of their first three picks to draft pass catching threats to surround Collins and backup Vince Young with.
During his three-year career in Columbia, Cook shared time between wide receiver and tight end before settling into the an All-SEC role at the tight end position. In three seasons, Cook snared 73 passes for 1,107 yards and 13 touchdowns, including a junior season with 573 yards on 37 catches with three scores.
His 6-5, 245 lb frame had teams interested in his potential and his stock exploded after a highly talked about NFL combine. Cook performed as one of the top tight ends at the event recording the fastest 40-yard dash time and the highest vertical leap.
The impressive performance made him one of the fastest risers on most mock draft boards, catapulting him to a possible first day pick. As the first day closed at Radio City Hall in New York, Cook was listed as the second best overall play available according to ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper.
But the Denver Broncos chose North Carolina tight end Richard Quinn over Cook leaving him up for the next day. In all, just two tight ends were taken ahead of Cook – Quinn in the second round and Oklahoma State's Brandon Pettigrew.
"I wouldn't say that I was the best but I was competing with the best. I know that it's a lot of good guys coming out this year," Cook said following the pro day event. "It's 21 guys-plus in the tight end class alone. I wouldn't say I'm the best but I know I'm competing against the best."
Cook becomes the first Gamecock to play for the Titans since quarterback Phil Petty signed a free agent contract in 2002.
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