Some (including former Raiders and Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden) regard former Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook as the best option at the position he plays. But Cook has faced relentless criticism in the weeks preceding the draft.
Cook addressed the criticism during a Thursday visit to PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio, starting with the criticism that he believes is the silliest.
“My character and people wanna say that I’m cocky or I’m arrogant and I don’t even know where they get that from,” Cook said. “I mean, it’s not like I’m talking trash out on the field or showboating. I just go out there and I play the game that I love. I lead my team to victory, try to lead them every single week to victory, and just go out there and play with passion and play with heart.
“So I think the crazy thing is they just want to knock my character and my personality. They’re saying things that are just basically the complete opposite of what they are. Someone wants to say, ‘Oh he’s cocky,’ and ‘Oh he doesn’t get along with his teammates,’ and ‘In the locker room his teammates don’t like him. Have they even been in the locker room? No. So how would they even know that?”
Of course, the best scouts find out the truth without being in the locker room because they get reliable information from trustworthy sources inside the locker room. That doesn’t mean the criticism of Cook is accurate, however. Especially since teams that want a player always have an incentive to try to induce a slide.
“There was a period during the season where there wasn’t a whole lot of talk,” Cook said. “Then all of a sudden as the season started to end it started to pick back up, and then all of a sudden once the season ended it just magnified times a hundred. So I was pretty surprised.”
The biggest criticism is that Cook was never a captain of his team.
“Not all captains are good leaders,” Cook said. “Like coach Gruden said on [his pre-draft] show not all head coaches are good leaders. You don’t need a title to lead. I think I showed that this year. I wasn’t voted team captain but did that hinder me from leading? No. Did that hinder from leading our team to a 12-2 record and a Big Ten title? No. So it didn’t effect the way I played. It didn’t affect the way that I went about my business or the way that I prepared. If anything it made me hungrier to want to go out there and prove people wrong for what they were saying, and I think I did that. It’s crazy how people just get caught up on, ‘Oh, you must be a captain to lead,’ ‘Oh you’re a good leader you must be a captain.’ It’s stuff like that. Pretty crazy how it all kinda took off, but looking forward to it being over.”
It could be over as soon as tonight, if Cook is picked in the first round. He said he’s entering the process expecting not to be, and he added that he won’t start getting nervous unless and until round two comes and goes without Cook getting a phone call.
For more from his phone call to PFT Live, you know what to do.