Is Connor Cook to Denver a realistic possibility?
When Brock Osweiler turned down the Denver Broncos to take $72 million from the Houston Texans last week, it was considered a possible setback for a B1G quarterback prospect.
The chance of Christian Hackenberg reuniting with his old coach, Bill O’Brien, went way down with the Texans investing in their quarterback of the future.
But the ripple effect could possibly benefit another B1G quarterback. The Broncos, now without Osweiler and the retired Peyton Manning, only had former Northwestern quarterback Trevor Siemian at the position. They traded for Mark Sanchez, who is under a one-year contract.
That means the Broncos are in need of a quarterback of the future. Given their No. 31 slot, some are suggesting that Connor Cook could be John Elway’s new franchise quarterback.
Todd McShay said on ESPN’s First Draft podcast that there’s a scenario in which Cook goes off the board in the first round.
“It won’t shock me if Connor Cook ends up going in the first, even though I have a real solid second-round grade on Cook and I think a lot of people do,” McShay said. “But it’s just the nature of that position.”
Mel Kiper Jr. then chimed in and said that he still couldn’t see the All-B1G quarterback going in the first round. That is, until McShay threw out the Denver possibility.
“I would think that they’re a team that is trying to make moves to get that position up to some type of standard,” Kiper said of the possibility of Cook going to the Broncos. “They could be, but with some of these quarterbacks, you can wait it out for them.”
Kiper is right. When Broncos General Manager/VP of Football Operations John Elway took Osweiler in 2012, he was a second-round pick. But that was after they went out and signed Manning to a five-year, $96-million deal.
Some, like CBS Sports Senior NFL Columnist Pete Prisco, believe the Broncos’ quarterback situation now — even with Sanchez — is far more urgent. That’s why he had Cook going to Denver in the last pick of the first round.
“They are forced to take (Cook) here now,” Prisco wrote in his latest Mock Draft. “Why? Who do they have? What’s the plan? Cook might be NFL ready right away. The issue is what’s his ceiling.”
Prisco and McShay weren’t alone with that opinion. NFL.com draft analyst Bucky Brooks said that given what the defending-champion Broncos have on defense, they could be the right destination for Cook.
“I think the Denver Broncos could also be a spot because they know how to play with a game-manager at quarterback,” Brooks said. “The big thing with Connor Cook is that he has to show that he’s healthy enough to make all the throws. If he does that and we get a true sense of what his leadership skills are gonna be, I think he can be a good pro.”
Lucky for Cook, he had a chance to quiet some doubts about his late-season shoulder injury at Michigan State’s Pro Day on Wednesday.
He received plenty of criticism from analysts like NFL Network’s Mike Mayock, who said that Cook hurt his draft stock by not playing in the Senior Bowl if he was truly healthy. Cook came clean in an interview with Mayock after Wednesday’s pro day and said that he still wasn’t at 100 percent at the time, which was why he elected to go to San Diego to work out with quarterback guru George Whitfield Jr. instead.
Whitfield was on hand for Cook’s pro day, and he came away impressed:
— George Whitfield Jr. (@georgewhitfield) March 16, 2016
Mayock was also in East Lansing to watch Cook and MSU’s draft hopefuls. Like Whitfield, Cook’s ability to drive the ball stood out to him.
“What I liked the most was the deep-ball accuracy,” Mayock said. “I thought he threw the ball extremely well, and did a nice job in the middle of the field. A lot of scouts want to know whether or not he can drive the football. He’s got good arm strength and — forget all about the 60-percent accuracy and everything — today he threw the ball with tremendous accuracy.”
It remains to be seen if Denver deems Cook first-round worthy, or if somebody else scoops up. He did have meetings with the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams before his workout. Cook also met with the Cleveland Browns, who have the No. 2 and No. 32 picks in the draft and are obviously in need of a quarterback.
The last time a B1G quarterback was selected in the first round was Kerry Collins in 1995. The jury is still out on whether or not the Broncos or somebody else will end that drought.
Either way, with all of the pre-draft negativity surrounding Cook, he likely won’t be ditching his MSU approach when he gets to the NFL.
Connor Cook literally has a chip on his shoulder… pic.twitter.com/SoKrfjoCh6
— Eric Lloyd (@EricLloyd) March 16, 2016