Connor Cook is still on the board. 34-5 Connor Cook. Rose Bowl and Cotton Bowl winning Connor Cook. Two-time Big Ten champion Connor Cook . . . is still undrafted 98 picks into the 2016 NFL Draft.
Questions about the lack of a “C” on his jersey have dogged him. Rumors of his love of the college nightlife have shadowed him. A late season shoulder injury made those questions only grow. Now, well into what was supposed to be the best week of his life, the winningest, most-decorated quarterback in Michigan State history is still waiting for an NFL team to call his number at the podium in Chicago.
The reasons, rumors and otherwise for Cook’s slide will be talked about at length in the coming days. He will be drafted at some point on Saturday. But by who? The fourth round is filled with potential landing spots.
Dallas (Pick #101 and #135): Jerry Jones almost picked Johnny Manziel two years ago and, at one point, before Manziel decided to turn into Jeff Spocoli, lamented about letting Johnny Football slip away. Jones has already taken a flier on a question mark with Notre Dame LB, Jaylon Smith, in round two. Will he choose Cook as Tony Romo’s understudy?
San Diego (Pick #102): Phillip Rivers is 34. Would the Chargers grab Cook and sit him, Aaron Rodgers-style, behind the still productive Rivers for two seasons or more? Not likely.
Kansas City (Picks #105, #106 and #126) Would Andy Reid take Cook to light a fire under veteran starter Alex Smith’s ass? Considering that the weakest part of Cook’s passing game are the types of screens and short timing routes that Reid’s West Coast system feeds on, that also seems a long shot.
N.Y. Giants (Pick #109): Eli Manning is 35 and Big Blue needs to find his successor someday. This is a real option. Stay tuned.
Pittsburgh (Pick #123): Ben Roethlisberger is an old 34. Mike Tomlin has a love of MSU Spartans (see Le’Veon Bell). He also shares a practice facility and stadium with with former MSU defensive coordinator and current University of Pittsburgh skipper, Pat Narduzzi.
Arizona (Pick #128): Carson Palmer is 36 and injury prone. Drew Stanton is 31 and has the same injury bug issues. Would Bruce Arians bring Cook aboard as an understudy for a Cardinals team that has been a playoff contender in recent years?
San Francisco (Pick #133): The Niners are an absolute tire fire. And with Colin Kaepernick the unhappy incumbent and Chip Kelly the new sheriff in town, I suppose anything is possible.
Buffalo (Pick #139): Rex Ryan has been loading up on defense through the draft’s first two days. Tyrod Taylor has been less than impressive under center for Buffalo to this point. The Bills have the last pick of the 4th round. And maybe, Connor Cook reminds Rex of an old renegade QB, named Jim McMahon, who once helped his father, Buddy Ryan, win a Super Bowl.
Prediction: Cook, a native of suburban Cleveland, will head east along Lake Erie and become Buffalo’s next signal-caller.