Jared Cook Just Needs To Be A Tight End
Expectations are sky high for Jared Cook, and it's not his fault. His arrival in Green Bay is less about him and more about Richard Rodgers.
A third round pick heading into his third season, Rodgers has been solid but not spectacular during his tenure with the Packers. His 78 catches since 2014 are respectable, as are his ten touchdowns.
But here's the catch: Richard Rodgers doesn't produce like a tight end, and the numbers back it up.
His 510 receiving yards in 2015 are very deceptive. 61 came when he answered Aaron Rodgers' Hail Mary in Detroit. Another 118 came on five more catches of 20 yards or longer. Subtract those 179 "big play" yards from his total, and suddenly Rodgers produced just 331 yards on 51 catches.
That's 6.49 yards per reception. In comparison, workhorse fullback William Henderson averaged 7.5 yards per reception for his career.
When scouts dream of tight ends, they dream of Jared Cook
Jared Cook, meanwhile, is close to the Platonic ideal of a modern NFL tight end, at least in terms of his raw numbers. You've probably heard by now about his prodigious NFL combine showing, but I'd like to focus on his yards per reception, like we did with Rodgers.
In 2015, Cook averaged 12.3 yards per catch, good for fifth in the league among tight ends with at least 39 catches. This is actually a full half yard below his career yards per catch average of 12.8.
Considering that he spent all of last season with some combination of Nick Foles and Case Keenum throwing him the ball, I would consider this quite an impressive feat.
To that end, I don't think there are really any fair expectations for Jared Cook other than just asking him to be the same Jared Cook that he's been to this point in his career. He just has to be what he is: a tight end. A big, fast, field stretching tight end.
And as one last note, there may yet be hope for Richard Rodgers as well. One of the four tight ends to beat Jared Cook in yards per catch average last season was Cleveland's Gary Barnidge, who averaged a whopping 13.2 yards on 79 catches. And who was Barnidge's tight ends coach in Cleveland?
None other than Brian Angelichio, now the tight ends coach with the Green Bay Packers.