Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith (89) makes a touchdown catch against San Francisco 49ers cornerback Tarell Brown (25) during the first half of the 2013 NFC divisional playoff football game at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Brandin Cooks looks up to Steve Smith

Oregon State Beavers wide receiver Brandin Cooks is one of the top wide receivers in the 2014 NFL Draft class, and that’s saying something given how loaded this year’s crops of wide receivers is. Cooks is most often compared to Victor Cruz, and I like that comparison due to Cooks’s big-time playmaking ability and his ability to also be solid in a “traditional” kind of wide receiver role. But Cooks also draws comparisons to future Hall of Famer Steve Smith (he’d get my vote) due to his unique skill-set and explosiveness that make up for his lack of height (as Smitty showed us, height isn’t the best way to evaluate WRs), and he definitely takes those comparisons in stride- as he should.

He said of Smith, via the Charlotte Observer’s Joe Person, “I know a lot about Steve Smith. That’s one of the guys I actually model my game after. He’s one of the best receivers today, so I definitely know who that is.”

“Size-wise and the playmaking ability, but not just that. (Also) the heart and tenacity he brings to the game. He’s not scared to do anything. He’s not scared to go over the middle … That’s how I like to see myself, too – a fearless receiver who’s not afraid to do those things.”

I love these quotes, because they remind me of everything I love about Smith as a player and competitor.

The Carolina Panthers could very well end up with Cooks next season, and they’ll hope that he falls to them with the 28th pick in the draft. One of the biggest positions of need for the Panthers is wide receiver, and I have a feeling Dave Gettleman will go with the best player available at offensive tackle, cornerback, or receiver with the 28th pick. It will be interesting to see how they construct their board at receiver, because this class is so deep and talented at the position that anyone could be listed anywhere. However, it’s hard to envision a shortlist without Cooks on it, because he has the ability to impact the game in the slot or on the outside, on screens or go routes, and both before and after the catch. He’s one of the top wideouts in the class, and it’s great to see that people aren’t underrating him anymore.

Getting a talented No. 2 WR in this year’s draft like a Cooks, Allen Robinson, or Odell Beckham Jr. would greatly help both Cam Newton and Steve Smith, and it will be interesting to see if the Panthers view WR as their biggest position of need.

The move isn’t the problem, but the timing is more than just alarming.

Tags: Brandin Cooks Carolina Panthers Football Oregon State Beavers Steve Smith

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