Advice to MSU’s Cook: ‘Be a sponge’ around Carr

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News
Connor Cook

Connor Cook’s slide to the fourth round was one of the most popular talking points from last week’s draft, and two ESPN analyst explained Monday what the former Michigan State star quarterback can do to resurrect his reputation and have a successful NFL career.

According to Mel Kiper Jr., Cook will have the perfect opportunity to learn from a good starting quarterback in Oakland after the Raiders selected him 100th overall on Saturday.

“Learn from how Derek Carr leads the football team and how he goes about his business,” Kiper said on a teleconference Monday. “He’s a professional, he’s been in the league, he’s well-liked by his teammates. Look at Derek Carr and what he’s doing. Follow him around. Be a sponge. And for whatever reason, you’re not team captain — as voted by his teammates. You weren’t MVP — Aaron Burbridge was. Something wasn’t right there.”

A combination of Cook’s play — 56.1 percent completions in 2015 — and personality concerns were the main reasons he fell in the draft, despite flashing NFL-level talent with the Spartans. Cook helped lead Michigan State to three straight seasons with at least 11 wins.

“A.J. McCarron, I think, is kind of a similar situation, a guy that won a ton of games, just consistently made plays, did what they’re supposed to do, played in a pro-style system coming out,” Todd McShay said on the teleconference.

Personality issues caused Connor Cook’s fall in draft

Alabama won two national titles with McCarron as the starting quarterback, but he fell to the fifth round of the 2014 draft. McCarron didn’t play as a rookie in Cincinnati, but started four games, including one in the postseason, for the Bengals in 2015 after an injury to Andy Dalton.

“With both of them, there were just some concerns about — whatever it is — how they carry themselves,” McShay said. “The other part too is with both A.J. McCarron and Connor Cook, there’s not one special, unique, elite trait. I look at Connor Cook and he’s got accuracy that’s solid, but he’s inconsistent at times. He has an average arm. He has average mobility. So, there’s nothing special except the fact that his play on the field is good and his teams win.

“So if I was Cook, I’d look at A.J. McCarron as the example. I’m going to go and I’m going to sit behind the starter, and I’m going to show up every day with a chip on my shoulder. I’m going to work my tail off. I’m going to be the best I can be, and I can learn from this guy in terms of leadership and the way to carry myself. And when I get my shot, I’m going to show them."

Derek Carr

Kiper on Robinson

Kiper also discussed why he was a big fan of the Lions’ second-round selection, defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson from Alabama.

“I just love his hustle, his athleticism, his no-quit, he fights, he’s a leader,” Kiper said. “He’s a great leader in the locker room, and he’s just turned 21 years of age. … People say, ‘Well, the pass rush.’

“He had a lot of sacks early on, 5.5 as a freshman. It’s in him. He can be disruptive. I think A’Shawn Robinson was a great second-round pick by the Detroit Lions.”