EAST LANSING — Connor Cook could be the first quarterback taken in next year’s NFL draft. Last week, the Michigan State signal caller got a chance to see how he stacks up against this year’s presumptive No. 1 overall pick, Jameis Winston.
Cook spent four days in San Diego last week, working with quarterback guru George Whitfield, and for a few of those days, he was training side-by-side with two of the top passers in this year’s draft: Winston and Bryce Petty.
Petty is a potential second-day choice who could be the third quarterback off the board.
“I worked out with Jameis two days,” Cook said at Michigan State pro day Wednesday. “I think we’re very similar. Pocket passers, accurate, throw a tight ball and just competitors. Guys that like to go out there and have fun and compete.”
Winston, who won the Heisman Trophy as a redshirt freshman at Florida State two seasons ago, threw for 3,907 yards and 25 touchdowns with 18 interceptions last year. He went 26-1 in his two seasons as a starter, losing only a national semifinal game to Oregon in January.
Cook, 6-feet-4 and 218 pounds, threw for 3,214 yards with 24 touchdowns and eight interceptions last year. He likely would have a first-round pick had he decided to enter this year’s draft.
Asked how he high he thought he could have gone after working side-by-side with the 6-4, 231-pound Winston, Cook said, “I don’t really know that.
“Obviously, I think highly of myself. Who knows that? Obviously, Bryce has that thing running against him, working in a spread offense, so there’s always, like, the ‘what-if’ factor. But I think the advantage that Jameis and I both have is that we’re from a pro-ready, pro-style offense, which benefits us and myself.”
Cook, who has worked with Whitfield the past two seasons, said he has a few areas of improvement this off-season.
“It’s footwork, it’s accuracy, it’s pocket presence, the whole nine yards,” Cook said. “And then me just watching myself on film, going through, making a pure evaluation, improving at throwing on the run. I thought I kind of took a step back at throwing on the run last year, so I’ve been working a lot on that. And then using the running backs, throwing to running backs more, and then just being more accurate. That all starts with your feet. Having your eyes and your feet connected, and I’ve been doing a lot of that with our receivers this year.”
On Wednesday, he watched several of his former teammates run through drills for NFL scouts, then after a quick tutoring session, returned to catch the end of pro day.
As for turning down possible NFL riches to spend one more year in college, Cook said that was right decision for him.
“First off, I want to graduate,” Cook said. “Coach (Mark Dantonio) always talks about completing your circles, and I feel like if I’m going to complete my circle, I want to graduate, stay here another year and finish what I started. And then I feel like, no one’s ever really ready for the NFL, you kind of go and adjust, but for me, I think there was things that I need to work on that I want to perfect so I can be one of those top picks next year, and that’s pocket presence, that’s footwork, that’s being more accurate.
“There was things that I want to perfect that I can do here instead of trying to perfect at the next level.”
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