The WR Great Eight: (4) Odell Beckham vs. (5) Brandin Cooks
(4) ODELL BECKHAM VS. (5) BRANDIN COOKS
In this match-up we have two players that are likely also competing for the same draft spot. Both players have similar production and are likely to go in the first round. Beckham eased past Martavis Bryant in first round action while Cooks took out Beckham’s team-mate Jarvis Landry. Lets see who our panel has in this battle.
WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT
Give me the Cookie Monster. He almost doubled Beckham’s targets this year (168 vs. 90), he has a better RZTDR and a better final year DR. Small wide receivers can be viable assuming they were workhorses in college and meet certain measurables – Cooks is better on both counts. Beckham’s RZTDR scares me (22%), as does that stat everyone keeps mentioning – 2 touchdowns in 26 career SEC games. Draft people love to say things like “Cooks plays bigger than he is,” but at least that seems quantifiable given his Red Zone production and 42% market share of touchdowns.
I think Cooks might be one of the best small WRs we’ve seen in a really long time. Beckham never produced well against tougher competition as Jon Moore pointed out. Cooks is over a year younger than Beckham, which proved to be important for smaller guys. With all of the hype surrounding Beckham its pretty likely you can get Cooks at a cheaper price as well.
The things that worry me about Beckham, lack of production versus good competition, consistency in finding the end zone, don’t exist for me with Cooks. The other thing I worry about with Beckham is it feels like he’s a player that could be used wrong at first by teams, but that is even more so worrisome with Cooks. If Cooks goes to a team that has no interest in using him creatively, he really has no appeal. Not that he’s a gimmick player by any means, but he needs to be in the right offense to flourish. Give me Cooks in a vacuum because of his sensational production in every area over Beckham.
For me Beckham disappears when it counts most. He was quick to beat up on the little guys in college, but when the big boys came to the yard, Beckham was nowhere to be found. Cooks produced at a very high clip for a guy his size without a WR the class of Jarvis Landry playing across from him. The only number that is important to me is 2…the number of touchdowns against SEC play. That is a number I just can not move past with Beckham. I think when it comes to both of these players, they will be very scheme and quarterback dependent. If either of these players end up as a slot guy with one of the elite quarterbacks, they could flourish. I don’t think either guy is a #1. Give me Cooks.
Odell Beckham is an outstanding receiver prospect who is deserving of first round talk and will be a strong #2 receiver for any team. My beef with him is that he only had two conference games with TD catches in his 26 game SEC career; by comparison, Brandin Cooks had seven conference games with TDs in 2013 alone. The fact of the matter is that Brandin Cooks is one of the best WR prospects of the last decade, regardless of his size, and if you wanted to argue that he is the best WR in this class, I could support that. He is everything people wanted Tavon Austin to be, except a better version of Tavon. Cooks will be a yardage/ppr monster in the NFL with the added benefit of strong touchdown potential.
I was really curious as to why we’re having a little bit of a disconnect with the game watchers on Beckham so I went to DraftBreakdown to see what I could figure out. But the problem is that DraftBreakdown only has cutups of Beckham’s good games. I calculated the difference between Beckham’s games which are on DB, and the ones that aren’t, and the difference is substantial. Beckham averaged over 120 yards and about a touchdown in each game shown on DB. For the games omitted Beckham averaged 70 yards and about half of a touchdown. It’s almost a 2X difference. I don’t think NFL teams will make their decision based on DB cutups, but that does at least explain some of the difference between RotoViz and the Twitter draft universe. And to be fair, Beckham does look amazing in those games. The only problem is: Who knows what’s contained in the data-points that are missing?
I’m putting my contrarian hat on for this battle. I really like the prospects of both of these WRs are the next level as impact main-stays at the next level. Cooks certainly wins the battle when we talk about production at the collegiate level. What I struggle with is that often times we don’t really have as many situational metrics available at the collegiate level. How much of Cook’s production came when he was in traffic and catching the ball in tight space? How much of it occurred after being pressed at the line of scrimmage? NFL teams are valuing ODB as a top 3 WR and he could sniff the 1st round. Beckam is just under 6’0″ but he plays larger than his size. I don’t go out of my way to find exceptions to the system, but I also won’t deny them when they’re present. ODB is just under 6’0″, he surprised being just under 200 lbs, and ran a 4.43 40 yard. He needed to have a solid showing at the combine – and he had one. He was faster than I was expecting. By comparison, Isaac Bruce was 6’0″ and 188 lbs. Ike ran a 4.53 40 yard. ODB didn’t have the production level that Bruce had at the collegiate level, but Bruce didn’t have another 2nd/ 3rd round caliber WR opposite him at Memphis to “share” market share with. ODB has the agility make the defenders miss with a 6.69 3 cone. (I suppose I should have written an article by this point, huh?) Give me ODB in this one, but that’s not to discount Cooks
In one of the most in depth match-ups thus far, Cooks moves on. Fantasy Gumshoe makes some good points in regards to Beckham, but in the end its not enough to stop Cooks momentum. How good is Cooks? When Jon Moore says he couldn’t argue if you said he was the number 1 WR in this class…you should listen. In the end it will be important come draft day to see where each player ends up. I can tell you Cooks is a big name down here in Louisiana and could be a killer with Drew Brees and the Saints. Team and scheme will play a big part in both players value come draft day.