At points over his last couple of years at Michigan State, quarterback Connor Cook looked like a player who could develop into a starting quarterback in the NFL.
He’s generally ranked outside this year’s top three prospects at the position, but how high Cook goes will be affected by the final evaluation process that kicks off with the combine this week. Of interest to teams will be Cook’s right shoulder injury, which caused him to miss one game in November and forced him to play with a brace on after returning to the lineup.
Cook, who has been training with quarterback coach George Whitfield in California, says the shoulder feels back to 100 percent.
“It’s been gradually getting better and better each week,” Cook said, via Bruce Feldman of FOXSports.com. “I took it easy the first week or so just because that was my first throwing without the brace. I didn’t want to jump out going gangbusters and have any setbacks. I wanted to get a feel for throwing again without the brace because obviously that’s allowing my shoulder to have full range of motion.”
In addition to showing teams that he’s healthy, Cook also expects to field questions about why he wasn’t one of Michigan State’s three permanent captains in 2015. Cook said it was “a big misconception” to infer that there were issues with either coach Mark Dantonio or his teammates because of that.
“People can talk to the coaches, my teammates, my past teammates,” Cook said. “Every one of them would say I was a team leader. I commanded respect every time I stepped inside that huddle. They respected me in the locker room. Talk to any of my teammates. My other thing is, how can you be that successful and win that many games as a team if the quarterback and his teammates aren’t getting along? I don’t think that’s possible. If you have a quarterback and his teammates that don’t get along, you’re probably not going to win a whole lot of games.”
The Spartans won a pair of Big Ten championships and a Rose Bowl in three years with Cook at the helm and his 71-22 touchdown-to-interception ratio had a lot to do with their success over that period. If he satisfies other concerns about his portfolio, that production should convince a team to use a pick in the first two days on Cook’s potential.