No confidence, no meat. That’s the law of the field, writes David Igono.
The 2016 quarterback draft class is rife with talented quarterbacks that need to develop various aspects of their games to have legitimate shots at becoming long-term starters in the league. One prospect who seems to be a lightning rod for criticism is Michigan State’s Connor Cook. This is mainly has to do with the public’s perception of very confident young man.
Connor Cook has flaws. He tends to struggle out of structure and he can be flustered by pressure. If you can get him off his spot, he’s not as dangerous. He also has a brio to his game that is, to me at least, very promising. His self-confidence is a strength. It is not a weakness. It does need to be channeled. Cook’s confidence in himself reminds me of this clip of humans stealing meat from lions.
No confidence, no meat. Cook’s game is solid because he thrives on confidence. How he targets a window says a lot about who he is as a prospect. Any team that takes him on as a prospect has to balance his daring nature within its leadership/team culture dynamic. You can’t, however, ask Cook to compartmentalize who he is. Set boundaries for him but let him mature. His confidence is his calling card. You can’t take that away from him and expect him to produce at a high level.
When Cook has the confidence of his coaching staff, the offense, and his teammates he can get every last ounce of daylight from an open window. The synergy he shares with his receivers is obvious. There’s a line where confidence turns to capable. Cook is capable.
Cook regularly attacks tight windows with precision. It’s always important to note what damage receivers can incur if they go for or catch a target. Cook is daring, but he’s generally very tidy with his placement. He protects his guys well.
When you have a refined ability and you back it with self belief you can go at the teeth of a defense. Cook has an underrated feel for both his receivers and the coverage downfield.
His knowledge of the opening and closing of windows is advanced. He thrives when he’s given time to pick his target, regardless of coverage. Again, confidence is crucial.
In the NFL, windows are open a lot less. A key developmental factor for Cook will be his adjustment to the speed of NFL defenses. He can get greedy at times going downfield.
He needs a seasoned, successful coaching staff to hold him accountable but also challenge him to find a better solution. Cook is good at finding solutions and his arm isn’t always it.
Average quarterback play at the NFL level is based on sound decision-making. The majority of NFL quarterbacks regularly make good decisions. The next tier of quarterbacks turn inches and leverage them into first downs and touchdowns. Connor Cook has that intangible skill. It remains to be seen if that skill can be refined while keeping his supreme confidence intact.
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