The the ability to improve the quality and depth of an NFL roster could be tied the time teams spend with potential collegiate players. At the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama to the Indianapolis Combine, this off-season quest is in full swing.
Offensive linemen are a hot commodity in what can be regarded as a questionable class of top-quality players on the line. With numerous teams seeking youth and athleticism across the line, top tier linemen could be at a premium - which is what is being noted in Indianapolis.
Offensive center Ryan Cook of New Mexico is one player whose stock is expected to rise due to his size and potential. A center in college, Cook had the opportunity to take reps at right tackle while at the Senior Bowl, with many teams displaying an interest in the 6-6 ½ - 328-lb line prospect.
(Ryan) Cook has the frame to play tackle at the professional level, with right tackle potentially being the settling point for the young man. While he is very green (limited experience), he could transition into the position. (Cook) is the kind of kid that could be a solid practice squad candidate, so he can gain experience, one NFL scout said.
Representatives from the New England Patriots, Jacksonville Jaguars, Houston Texans, Atlanta Falcons, and Carolina Panthers spent time with the All-Mountain West walk-on, with sessions with another four-to-five teams expected after that.
Cook spent time with the Patriots scouting staff in Mobile during the Senior Bowl and appears to be a marked target on their draft board. Cook was the lone blocker from the South squad who was given high grades from scouts.
With a number of other issues along the line, having another big, talented lineman around is bound to put a smile on Tom Brady's mug.
Scout.com's Senior Bowl notes on Cook:
Monday Practice Notes: Possesses long arms which showed to be both a burden and a blessing. IF he hit his punch, the defender was dead in the water. More often than not, he did not land said punch. It should also be pointed out Cook played some right tackle as well today.
Tuesday Practice Notes: This center prospect seems to be making a new home at right tackle. He was complimented by the line coach on a proper and powerful punch. His timing on the punch overall is in question though. Out on the edge, Cook has shown he is comfortable and smooth in a deep pass set.
Wednesday Practice Notes: Received reps at both center and tackle as he has all week. Had trouble early in the day taking a proper angle in his pass set. While he appears suited to make the transition to right tackle, his timing is clearly off at the position. What he has shown all week is strength at the point of attack and a very good punch.
Thursday Practice Notes: Continued splitting his time at center and right tackle. Heavily reprimanded by line coach on not making the proper line calls. Did show better width which he was coached to do yesterday.
Analysis: One of this week's pleasant surprises. Cook's smooth transition to right tackle certainly raised his stock. Whether a team selects him to man the middle or play him on the island, he will need some work and conditioning. A couple years down the road, Cook could be a steal.
Pos: Large, nasty blocker who annihilates opponents. Works to get leverage on defenders, patient in pass protection and controls opponents at the point. Large enough to engulf defenders. Gets movement from run blocks and anchors in pass protection. Smart, alert lineman.
Neg: Not quick or explosive into blocks. Lacks footwork and range in space. Does not display great adjustment.
Analysis: A center with rare size, Cook displays excellent strength and the ability to open up the middle of the field. Lacks adjustment and could ultimately be tried at strong side tackle for a team wanting to take advantage of his size and growth potential.