When the Packers signed former Rams tight end Jared Cook on Monday to a one-year $3.6 million deal, some were pleasantly surprised. The Packers signed a “big name” free agent at a position of need, maybe the position of need on offense.
In January, Head Coach Mike McCarthy expressed his desire for a player to attack the middle of the field. Cook should help McCarthy and Rodgers attack that part of the field. Cook is a big body fast tight end. Cook probably isn’t the 4.5 guy he was at the 2009 combine but he is still one of the faster tight ends in the league. Speed was an area where the Packers were lacking in 2015.
Cook also allows the Packers to develop talent at tight end and let McCarthy run more 2 tight end sets and formations where Cook is split out. Cook allows second-year players Kennard Backman and Mitchell Henry and a possible draft pick to learn the offense more and be more confident in the offense. The Packers can more effectively run the flat that was futile with Richard Rodgers.
Cook offers something the Packers have missed since Jermichael Finley went down: a field stretching tight end. An immediate concerned that came to light when Cook was signed was his propensity to drop the ball. Jared Cook was the league leader in drops by a tight end with 10 in 2015, per Pro Football Focus.
Jared Cook dropped 10 passes last year. No other tight end dropped more than seven.
— Nathan Jahnke (@PFF_NateJahnke) March 28, 2016
While it might be alarming that Cook dropped so many passes, it is also important to look at the talent that he had throwing him the ball. With Case Keenum and Nick Foles at quarterback, Cook did not have the best talent to work with. But does it matter? A drop is a drop, right? Well, when many passes aren’t on target, it is more difficult for a receiver to trust that the ball will be where it needs to be. This can certainly affect drops.
Cook has been plagued throughout his career with quarterbacks simply unable to get him the ball. In 2014, he led all tight ends with most uncatchable targets with 33 of his 99 targets uncatchable.
For the first time is Cook’s career, he gets a top quarterback in Aaron Rodgers. In his seven year career, Cook has caught passes from 11 quarterbacks including the likes of Kerry Collins, Vince Young, Matt Hasselbeck, Austin Davis and Kellen Clements. Not exactly a top flight bunch
Rodgers can bring the best out of Cook and Cook can run the wheel routes. Having a position coach in Brian Angelichio will help Cook as Angelichio helped make Gary Barnidge into a very effective player.
Jared Cook probably isn’t the replacement for Richard Rodgers, however, he is a nice complement. Rodgers is a good possession and red zone threat but Cook still is a threat to score any time he catches the ball. Cook’s 12.8 yards per catch in his career is better than both Jermichael Finley (12.5) and Richard Rodgers (8.8). Cook also ranks 5th in yards per catch among tight ends since 2009.
Among TEs with 20 catches per year since ‘09, Cook ranks fifth in yards per catch. #Packers
— Packer Report (@PackerReport) March 28, 2016
Jared Cook gives Mike McCarthy a big target in the seam and middle of the field for at least a year. If all goes well, Cook could fill a very big void on this team and open up the offense.