This offseason the Rams lost wide receiver Sammy Watkins in free agency to the Kansas City Chiefs. To fill the void left behind by Watkins, the team traded for Brandin Cooks from the New England Patriots, giving up their first-round pick. This makes two offseasons in a row that LA has traded for a top-talent player on the outside. Unfortunately, last year’s move didn’t pan out very well for the Rams. Watkins struggled to make a consistent impact, rarely functioning as more than a decoy in the crowded Ram offensive attack.
So, how can the Rams be sure that this move for Cooks won’t end the same way? Well, Cooks is a much different player than Watkins.
Don’t get me wrong here, Watkins is fast. However, he is NOT nearly as fast as Cooks. Cooks ran a 4.33 at the combine, and he is every bit as fast as that on the field and in his routes. Watkins ran a 4.43, a full tenth of a second slower than Cooks.
The elite speed of Cooks will allow him to take the top off of defenses for the Rams, head coach Sean McVay lining him up wide and sending him on a go or post route in order to draw safety attention and potentially connect on a homerun ball with quarterback Jared Goff.
This speed also allows Cooks to get more separation from defenders, giving his quarterback a bigger window to throw the football. This has lead to a catch percentage (receptions/targets) that has exceeded Watkins’ in each of their four seasons in the NFL.
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Fits The Role Better
As mentioned before, Cooks has been brought to LA to take the top off of defenses. For this job specifically, there may be no better man in the whole entire NFL. The speedster ranked first in receptions over 50 yards over the past few seasons and consistently beats his man down the field.
Sure, Cooks may not have as complete a route tree as Watkins. Luckily, this doesn’t matter to the Rams. The non-vertical routes will be run by Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods, who lack the speed to beat their man down the field but run precise routes and have the physical strength to get open in tight spaces.
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So don’t worry Rams fans, Brandin Cooks is not Sammy Watkins 2.0. As a matter of fact, he fits Watkins’ role in the Rams offense far better than Watkins ever did. He will be an even better decoy when the ball does not come his way and will likely find himself open downfield much more often than Watkins did. Keep an eye out for Cooks to be streaking down the sideline for LA early and often this season.