Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook projects as a starter in the NFL, but for one high-level scout, not a star.
The senior enters arguably the biggest game of his career Saturday at home against Oregon as the Spartans look to add a major non-conference win to a resume that could eventually stack up well for the College Football Playoff selection committee. But it's the resume Cook is building as a player that will define the senior's place in the 2016 NFL Draft. NFL Media's Albert Breer spoke to an AFC college scouting director who already sees something of a ceiling for Cook, however.
"He has excellent height, weight, he's athletic with good arm strength," the director told Breer. "But he struggles to read defenses and his football instincts are average. He has NFL starting ability, but he's not a franchise-type quarterback."
Last year, Cook completed 212 of 365 passes for 3,214 yards, 24 touchdowns and only eight interceptions. His career completion percentage isn't especially high (57.9), but in the Spartans' pro-style offense, he also doesn't benefit from as many easy, high-percentage throws as quarterbacks who play in spread attacks.
The director also noted that, for one of the nation's top quarterbacks, it was surprising that Cook wasn't named a team captain by his Spartans teammates. That's something NFL scouts will delve into more deeply with Cook in the spring, perhaps as early as the Reese's Senior Bowl, if Cook receives and accepts an invitation. Cook, for his part, has already addressed the team's choice of three other players for captain in quite a bit of detail.
Breer also spoke with an AFC scout about the potential of Mississippi State cornerback Will Redmond. A senior who lacks experience but has plenty of talent and, as College Football 24/7 noted earlier this summer, stacks up well athletically with anyone on the MSU roster.
Said the scout: "He's very athletic and highly competitive, that stands out on tape. Because they're run a heavy rotation in the past, he hasn't been a full-time starter, he hasn't played a lot of football in general ... He's tough and can cover man-to-man, now we have to see if he can put it all together. Is he a guy that just has talent and traits, or is he that and just inexperienced with a lot of room to grow?"
Redmond should see game reps Saturday against two of the more talented wide receivers in the SEC: LSU's Travin Dural and Malachi Dupre.