#31, Chris Cook, CB
(6020, 212, 4.38-4.52) Virginia
Notes: Born Christopher O'Shea Cook, 2/15/87, in Lynchburg, Va. Son of Evanette Cook. Has a younger brother, Rashaun. His cousin Vic Hall was a teammate at UVA. Played running back, wide receiver and quarterback on offense, and cornerback on defense at Heritage High School, where he was coached by Chris Jones. Earned first-team all-state honors as a defensive back as a junior and senior. Rushed for 789 yards and 12 touchdowns and caught 10 passes for 250 yards and three TDs as a senior. Also threw six TD passes. Posted more than 50 tackles and intercepted eight passes as a junior.
College: Played in five games as a true freshman in 2005; on the field for 105 plays, had 6 tackles, 2 pass breakups and 1 interception returned for 30 yards and a touchdown vs. Maryland before suffering a season-ending broken right leg in his first start at cornerback against Boston College. Played in all 12 games, starting 11 at CB, in 2006; saw action in 648 plays, had 46 tackles, 4 tackles-for-loss, 1 forced fumble, 5 PBU and one interception. In 2007, he started 7 of 9 games played, 512 plays, 39 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 fumble recovery (returned 44 yards for a score), 6 PBU, 1 interception for 25 yards; sprained his left knee and missed 2 games, then was academically ineligible for the Gator Bowl. Sat out the entire 2008 season due to academics. Moved back home and worked at Sears delivering appliances. Returned to start all 12 games at cornerback in 2009. Became a mentor to younger players and was elected team captain; posted 40 tackles, 6 PBU and 4 interceptions (with 58-yard TD vs. BC) and 1 TFL. Also returned 5 kickoffs for 101 yards (20.2 avg.). General studies major. Nickname is "Cookie." Here's a highlight reel of Cook vs. Clemson.
Pre-Draft: Measured 6-foot-2, 212 pounds at the Scouting Combine with 32 ½-inch arms, 9 ¼-inch hands and posted times of 1.49 10-yard, 2.52 20-yard, 4.45 40-yard, 4.23 short shuttle, 6.88 three-cone with a 38-inch vertical jump, 11-0 broad jump and 7 bench press reps at 225 pounds. To his credit, he reportedly had a shoulder problem but benched anyway and participated in all the drills.
Pro: Second-round draft choice (No. 34 overall) by the Vikings in 2010. Besides scouting Cook at the Senior Bowl and Combine, defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier visited him and Virginia coaches this spring. He will compete outside at cornerback and the team has no plans to move him inside to safety. Frazier reportedly made the phone call to notify Cook the Vikings had selected him. The Baltimore Ravens attempted to move up to the first pick in the second round to select Cook, but the St. Louis Rams wouldn't agree to a deal.
Positives: Terrific pure athlete. Prototype size, well-built cornerback with terrific upside. Brings a physical style of coverage, shows fluid hips and transitions well in coverage. Tall and long-bodied player with long arms and top leaping ability, making him able match up in the red zone with bigger receivers. Competes for the football up high. Reads receivers and breaks quickly on the ball. He's shown good hands and makes plays on the ball and can return an interception. Good timed speed to run step-for-step with receivers in coverage. Not afraid to come up on run support and willing to hit. Plays with confidence.
Negatives: Inconsistent technique, both on coverage and as a tackler. Needs refinement. Tends to play high at times and allows too much separation. Shows some hesitation in his play at times and may not have great instincts.
Summary: Has all the tools to develop under the coaching of defensive backs coach Joe Woods to eventually become a quality, starting-level pure outside cornerback.
What they said:
"I know some teams can look at him as a potential safety. I think we see it as something different than what we have. I mean, he's a 6-2 corner that can run and has vertical jump and very good ball skills. That he can probably get up and play press (coverage)." -Rick Spielman
"We see him as bigger corner, just a different person than we currently have on the roster. He's a young Leslie Frazier, if you will, who wasn't too bad either." -Brad Childress
"Vikings are really deep at CB now." -Adam Caplan, Scout.com via Twitter
"Told you guys Spielman likes to collect CBs. Cook is the perfect Cover 2 corner. Big and smooth. Pittsburgh was looking at him." - Michael Smith, ESPN, via Twitter
"Cook will be able to play Cover 2 and should be able to set the edge in the outside run game." - Matt Bowen, National Football Post
"Cook fits the profile of Minnesota's cornerbacks with great size, length and press coverage ability. He adds depth to a position of need for the Vikings, with concerns about both Antoine Winfield, who played hurt much of last season, and Cedric Griffin coming off a season-ending torn ACL injury that could force him to start the season on the PUP list." -Nolan Nawrocki, Pro Football Weekly
"Cook is fluid enough to stay at corner. We were impressed by his standout showing at the Senior Bowl this year and he's the highest-rated corner left on our board. Antoine Winfield and Cedric Griffin are good starters for the Vikings, but Griffin is coming off an ACL injury and taking Cook will enable the Vikings to bring Griffin back slowly and allow Benny Sapp and Asher Allen to be relied on as backups. Corner was one of the Vikings' major needs and now they have a stable group to rely on. Cook will also add size and ball skills to this Vikings' secondary." -ESPN Draft Tracker
"The Vikings are one of the few teams in this draft without a glaring need. They used their first selection in this draft to take the physically talented corner from Virginia. Cook is a big, press corner who will likely contribute on special teams and provide depth behind Antoine Winfield and Cedric Griffin as a rookie." -Ross Tucker, SI.com
"He has the size that scouts desire from a corner and he will match up well with tall receivers. In a deep cornerback class, Cook is a wildcard and could be a steal." -Chris Steuber, Scout.com
"Chris is a pretty unusual specimen for the position. He's a size corner with athletic skill. And there are a lot of smaller corners in the league, but that's not because the league prefers smaller corners. It's because there's a certain level of athletic ability necessary to play out there. It's more frequently found in smaller players than in bigger players. But when a player can bring size, you can see the receivers are constantly getting bigger and bigger." -Al Groh, former Virginia head coach
"Cook has eye-catching size and is very smooth in his backpedal and transition. He showed good hip flexibility in coverage, along with decent ball skills. In order to maximize all the speed and athleticism he brings to the CB position, Cook will have to step up his aggressiveness. He was below average as a tackler and doesn't appear to enjoy the physical aspects of the game. Cook has all the skills necessary to make the grade at the pro level. Whether he'll pay the price from an intensity and physicality standpoint is up for debate. That's why he qualifies as the type of prospect who can either make your draft or break your heart." -Mel Kiper, Jr.
"The Vikings address their cornerback situation with the addition of Chris Cook. In adding the rangy cover man, the Vikings have a young player to plug in if Cedric Griffin is unable to start at corner come Week 1. Given Cook's size, athleticism and length, he should excel in the Vikings' two-deep scheme." -NFL.com
"Really good pick. The Vikings needed corner help and drafted the consensus top prospect available at the position. You can't argue that. (Pick Grade: A)" -WalterFootball.com
Kevin Brown has been providing personnel analysis and writing about the Vikings for more than 20 years with Viking Update. Follow VU on Twitter and discuss this and other topics on our message boards.