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Sam Bradford and Jared Cook May Not Be Sleepers


My sriracha flavored 10 Sleeper Tight Ends column just went up on FanSided. I promote some pretty obscure players like Vance McDonald and Tony Moeaki. You know who isn’t on it?

Jared Cook.

My new favorite RotoViz app is the QB to Receiver Efficiency Search Tool. Here are a few highlights for Cook. I’ve included Nate Washington and Kenny Britt for context.

Jake Locker Nate Washington 69 35 665 6 4 8.77
Jake Locker Kenny Britt 54 27 373 3 2 6.35
Jake Locker Jared Cook 50 32 390 3 3 6.3
Kerry Collins Kenny Britt 88 50 937 5 3 10.25
Kerry Collins Nate Washington 88 39 425 5 8 1.88
Kerry Collins Jared Cook 39 26 295 1 2 5.77
Matt Hasselbeck Nate Washington 141 84 1087 5 6 6.5
Matt Hasselbeck Jared Cook 103 61 893 4 1 9.01
Matt Hasselbeck Kenny Britt 61 34 482 4 1 8.48

You’ll notice that Cook wasn’t particularly efficient with Jake Locker or Kerry Collins at the helm. It’s easy to discount those results since Locker and Collins were both awful quarterbacks during those stretches, but’s noteworthy how much more efficient Nate Washington was with Locker and Kenny Britt was with Collins. Cook looked like a star with Matt Hasselbeck, so I guess you could take the baseball approach of 1 out of 3 ain’t bad.

The Jared Cook Impending Superstar meme suggests the field-stretching tight end suffered from a lack of targets in Tennessee, but the above chart calls his efficiency into question. RotoViz looked at Cook earlier this offseason and came to the conclusion that he’s terrible in the red zone.

Let’s take a quick look at Sam Bradford’s results for comparison purposes.

Sam Bradford Danny Amendola 229 152 1404 5 3 5.98
Sam Bradford Brandon Gibson 226 133 1652 8 4 7.22
Sam Bradford Steven Jackson 145 105 871 1 1 5.83
Sam Bradford Lance Kendricks 99 60 764 4 1 8.07
Sam Bradford Chris Givens 80 42 698 3 1 8.91

I think you can pencil Tavon Austin in for the Amendola role and Stedman Bailey in for Gibson. Austin clearly has more run-after-catch ability than Amendola, but keep in mind that the savviest team in the NFL just signed Amendola. It would be surprising if Austin matched his route-running ability as a rookie.

These numbers are a little discouraging for those who don’t think Bailey will outperform Austin the same way he did in college. I also think it’s pretty clear the odds favor Chris Givens as the most valuable member of the Rams passing game in 2013.

You’ll notice Lance Kendricks has also been pretty efficient. This could mean Bradford is good throwing to the tight end, or it could mean Kendricks is a sleeper to eat into Cook’s role. RotoViz recently examined team target percentages to specific positions. The obvious conclusion is that St. Louis doesn’t throw in the direction of tight ends frequently enough to support both Kendricks and Cook.

RotoViz has examined Bradford and compared him favorably to Aaron Rodgers and suggested he might throw 50 touchdowns. Moreover, he looks pretty good next to Matthew Stafford, especially when you correct for Megatron. Don’t get me wrong, Stafford is definitely overvalued heading into 2013, but that doesn’t mean Bradford won’t be as well.

Here’s what Ron Jaworski recently said about Bradford on ESPN’s NFL32.

Jaws: What are the concerns when I study Bradford ?
A lack of efficiency in the red zone.. too many interceptions and it’s a red zone game. You can’t be a high level QB if you can’t execute there. Bradford, at times, still struggles with basic blitz concepts that a player with his experience level should understand.

If Jared Cook struggles in the red zone and Sam Bradford also struggles in the red zone, then Cook is essentially a big, clear out receiver who just happens to play tight end. That’s probably the subtext in the entire Tennessee fiasco.

I still like Bradford as a member of a Hydra committee strategy, but expectations should be tempered for 2013. Cook should be avoided like an episode of True Blood. (If you must see Alexander Skarsgard, check out The East.)

Shawn Siegele is the creator of the contrarian sports website Money in the Banana Stand and Lead Writer for Pro Football Focus Fantasy.

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