Jon Gruden knows his football. Not only was he a successful head coach in the NFL with the Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he’s among the most knowledgeable football-related media personalities out there.
So when Gruden gives his take on a specific topic, it might make sense to take note.
There’s, however, one issue here. Gruden’s latest take is about as hot as it gets. It runs contrary to a widespread belief around the NFL scouting community. And in reality, it has very little substance to it.
On Thursday, the always entertaining analyst went on ESPN to indicate that former Michigan State signal caller Connor Cook might very well be the best quarterback in the 2016 NFL draft:
Jon Gruden just said on ESPN that Michigan State's Connor Cook "is gonna be perhaps the best QB in this draft."
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 7, 2016
That’s a cool story. It also couldn’t be further from the truth.
Most media outlets have Cook at the fourth-best quarterback prospect behind the likes of Jared Goff, Carson Wentz and Paxton Lynch.
While one and two has been debated for some time now, Gruden is the first respected football mind to go as far as to indicate Cook could be the best quarterback in the class.
A few issues with this statement.
First off, Cook was absolutely dismal during the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis back in February. So much so that NFL Media personality Bucky Brooks called him one of the biggest losers of the event:
“He (Cook) struggled with ball placement and accuracy in drills … . repeatedly missed receivers on routes with high and outside throws that landed well outside of the strike zone,” Brooks wrote back in February. “While teams will certainly take Cook’s injury into account, the fact that he continued to struggle with his ball placement confirms the questions about his accuracy based on his low completion percentage.”
When you combine Cook’s substandard tape and his below-average completion percentage (57.5 percent throughout his Michigan State career), there’s a tremendous red flag.
That’s magnified even further with him not being selected as a captain for the Spartans as a senior.
Accuracy and leadership — two major things scouts look for when it comes to NFL quarterback prospects.
The consensus top-three quarterbacks in this class possess those traits. It really remains to be seen whether Cook does.
Gruden may think he’s on to something here, but the strong likelihood is that Cook will be the fourth quarterback off the board. That will likely come some time early in the second round.
Whether Cook comes close to living up to the former coach’s expectations will depend heavily on the situation the quarterback finds himself in.