Vikings find a familiar component in Cook

Chris Cook may not have been a household name to many Vikings fans, but the organization not only had him targeted as a player they wanted, but head coach Brad Childress said he reminds him of one of the better defensive backs of yesteryear (hint: he works for the Vikings and knows a thing or two about D-backs).

When the Vikings moved out of the first round Thursday night to the second pick of the second round in Friday's draft, one of the players they targeted was cornerback Chris Cook. The Vikings had done a lot of homework on Cook and vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman said the move gave the Vikings draft flexibility and the chance to gain extra draft leverage in the later rounds and still get a player they wanted with the 30th pick.

"Chris Cook knew that hopefully he was going to be there (at No. 34) and that was one of the reasons we did the trade as well last night, taking a shot that Chris would still be there," Spielman said.

The Vikings got about a half-dozen teams looking to move into their spot at No. 34, but no offer came that could get them to trade down and they pulled the trigger to make the pick on Cook, who was highly regarded by both the scouting staff and the coaches.

"I think that when you look at what was behind us and potential teams that needed corners ... were you willing to take that risk and potentially move back and pick up some more picks and not get a player that you wanted to take?" Spielman said. "So, we felt very strongly that when we made the move last night to sit there, if our guy was going to be there, then we were going to go ahead and sit there unless it was something that was too good to pass up in the trade value."

One of the biggest question marks for some teams was Cook's commitment to the game. He was suspended twice for failing to meet academic standards, which forced him to miss the Gator Bowl following the 2007 season and the entire 2008 campaign. But Spielman said that the Vikings were satisfied with the explanation Cook gave and that his commitment to football is as solid as anyone on the roster.

"We felt very comfortable after we went through why he was academically ineligible," Spielman said. "We went through his whole career. That's why (defensive coordinator) Leslie Frazier went down and spent some time with the coaches down there, spent some time with the kid, just to make sure we had a real good feel for him. When Leslie came back from the trip, he felt very positive about the kid."

It was important to head coach Brad Childress to get a hands-on look at Cook before committing to a high slot on the Vikings' draft board. While a lot of good information can be gleaned from the Combine and the week of Senior Bowl practices, it's the one-on-one approach that helps seal the deal when it comes to draft.

"We see those guys in some pretty sterile environments, where everything is canned," Childress said. "Whether it's a Pro Day (or the Combine), it's this drill and this drill and this drill. If you're not working out the guy, you don't get to see maybe something that is important to you. I think that is kind of global when we send Leslie down there."

Cook's biggest selling point is his size. It's rare to find cornerbacks over 6 feet tall (Cook is 6-2) that have the kind of speed and agility that he possesses. Both Childress and Spielman were adamant that the Vikings view him as a cornerback who plays outside the hashmarks, but his size was what made teams other than the Vikings have a keen interest in drafting him.

"He has some versatility and I know some teams can look at him as a potential safety," Spielman said. "I think we see it as something different than what we have. He's a 6-2 corner that can run, has (a good) vertical jump and very good ball skills. He can probably get up and play press. One of the things is getting on the same page as the coaches on what specific skill set you're looking for at the position and then we can go (get) those type of players, what they're describing to us."

In Cook, they see a player who can use his height, speed and big wingspan to help defend some of the bigger wide receivers the Vikings will face. While he may not have been at the top of too many draft analysts' lists at cornerback, he gives the Vikings something they're looking for – and a comparison that hits pretty close to home.

"We see him as bigger corner, just a different person than we currently have on the roster," Childress said. "He's a young Leslie Frazier, if you will, who wasn't too bad either."

John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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