Raiders move up to grab MSU's Connor Cook


The Oakland Raiders made the first big splash of the fourth round on Saturday by trading up with the Browns to grab quarterback Connor Cook with the 100th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.

The swap required Oakland to send two picks -- their fourth-rounder (No. 114) and fifth-rounder (No. 154) -- to Cleveland in return for the polarizing Michigan State passer.

It's a surprising choice on the surface, with the promising Derek Carr embedded as Oakland's franchise quarterback deep into the future. The pick, though, gives the Raiders a backup in the mold of Kirk Cousins.


Draft coverage:

That's the comparison NFL Media's Mike Mayock made, saying, "That's who we think he can be. Now, when I look at this guy, does he have enough arm strength? Yeah, he does. ... The knock on Connor Cook and why he dropped, number one: 58 percent thrower over his career. He was 34-5, OK? So that's pretty outstanding. But the second piece, whether you like it or not, is the whole leadership and captain conversation. Some teams in the NFL believe he should have been a captain as voted on by his teammates -- some NFL teams don't care. Time will tell."

It's worth noting that Cousins, also out of Michigan State, was taken at No. 102 overall by the Redskins in 2012, a nearly identical landing spot. NFL Media's Daniel Jeremiah, though, sees a closer comparison to AJ McCarron, saying: "Ironically, AJ McCarron ended up sliding in the draft, as well, ended up going in the fifth round to the Cincinnati Bengals. Both these guys at powerhouse college programs, big winners -- get a lot of credit for that. They both love to hang in the pocket. Big, strong pocket passers, and there was a little bit of a personality question about AJ McCarron when he came out."

With Christian Hackenberg, Jacoby Brissett and Cody Kessler all finding NFL homes before him, Cook was not seen by teams as immediate starting material. He won't need to be the face of the franchise in Oakland, and it remains to be seen if he can make football his top priority. If so, it's widely agreed that Cook has the tools to build a career at the pro level.

The pick is not great news for Raiders backups Matt McGloin or especially Garrett Gilbert. McGloin has played well in spots, but Gilbert is fighting for his job starting today.