Erik Cook gets predraft advice

The brother of Vikings offensive lineman Ryan Cook is also trying to make his way from the University of New Mexico into the NFL. Erik, who is also an offensive lineman, talked about the advice he receives from Ryan and what he's learned from his brother's career so far.

As far as fans are concerned, the NFL draft is mostly about the high draft picks and big names, but for a select few prospects there is also the family side of things.

Rutgers cornerback Devin McCourty, who has gained a lot of momentum as a possible Vikings first-round target, has a twin brother Jason that was drafted in the sixth round by the Tennessee Titans last year. But since Jason wasn't invited to the NFL Scouting Combine last year, he couldn't offer Devin much advice on that aspect of draft preparation.

The Vikings also have a local connection. The younger brother of offensive lineman Ryan Cook, Erik, who is also an offensive lineman, is hoping to get drafted.

"He's pretty much just kept me in check. He's been through this whole experience before," Erik said at the Combine in February. "He's been through the Combine and the draft and all that, so he already knows what to expect for me, and he's been letting me know about all that stuff so I'm not shocked when I'm out here. He just pretty much kept me in check."

Ryan knows from first-hand experience that you never can be too sure of what to expect in the draft. He entered the draft with many analysts in the media viewing him as a mid-round selection. Instead, the Vikings used the middle of their three second-round picks (the 51st overall) in 2006 to select Ryan out of the University of New Mexico.

At New Mexico, Ryan played center, but the Vikings were intent on moving him to tackle. He started three of the six games he played as a rookie and then started 30 of 32 games over the next two years before Minnesota drafted Phil Loadholt to take over Cook's starting job at right tackle last year.

His big brother's experience has helped show Erik the business side of the NFL, and the patience and persistence that can sometimes be part of an NFL career.

"With the experiences he's gone through, I've kind of seen from the inside and the outside the experiences – how it is," Erik said. "It's not just that you're on scholarship and if you go out there and keep playing football, you keep your scholarship. If you don't play well, you still keep your scholarship but you're just not a starter. You kind of see in the NFL (that) if you're not performing, there's always going to be someone else out there and soon as you're time is up, you're not getting a second chance."

Like Ryan, Erik isn't sure which position he'll be playing when he enters the NFL, probably as either a late-round choice or as an undrafted free agent. At 6-foot-6 and 318 pounds, he has made starts at center, guard and tackle. But he'll most likely be playing either center or guard.

"Most of the teams I've been talking to, they want to see me at guard. I'm more than happy to do it. If I need to go down at center, I know how to play center. I'm just ready to go wherever I'm told to go," he said.

Ryan was able to offer advice about the Combine itself.

"He told me all about the Combine, and usually when you're a college athlete coming to the Combine all you're thinking about is the running. The main thing he told me is that it's all about the interviews," Erik said. "When we came out here and we talked to some of the guys, they were telling us 90 percent of the stuff you've probably already done. This is 10 percent of what they're looking at. When I came out here, I already knew what was to be expected."

Erik talked with a dozen teams or more and found some of the questions to be odd. Some were about football. Others were supposed to reveal some inner attitude, like the one about if the house was on fire and all the people and pets were out, what would be the one thing you'd want to save. The only quick answer that came to Erik's mind was his cell phone.

"They do try to ask you some trick questions. First of all, you've got to be honest. They're going to find out if you're lying or if you don't know what you're talking," he said. "Then you've just got to be yourself. They want a good guy. They don't want any bad guys on their team, somebody that's going to cause trouble for them. If you're honest and don't cause trouble for them, the interviews go good."

The Vikings asked him if he'd be able to play with his brother.

"My response was, ‘Sure, I'm going to have a spot to live so I don't have to worry about living accommodations right off the bat,'" he said.

Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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