CHICAGO — Connor Cook’s long wait finally ended during the fourth round of Saturday’s NFL Draft.
The quarterback from Michigan State faced a two-day freefall, as kickers and running backs alike were being drafted as he sat waiting to hear his name called. With the 100th pick, the Oakland Raiders and general manager Reggie McKenzie selected the 23-year-old.
His selection makes Cook the third Michigan State quarterback taken in this draft, offensive tackle Jack Conklin went No. 8 overall to the Titans and defensive end Shalique Calhoun went No. 75 overall, also to the Raiders.
Despite being seemingly set at the quarterback position with Derek Carr, the Raiders traded up with the Browns in order to grab Cook.
The @RAIDERS traded up to pick 100 to draft @Connor_Cook03.
Team with pick 101? Dallas Cowboys.https://t.co/kf7nOoRTHh
— #NFLDraft (@nflnetwork) April 30, 2016
Cook won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award last season and was also named the 2015 Big Ten Quarterback of the Year. Additionally, he was selected for All-Big Ten honors.
The 6-foot-4 Cook finished his three-year career with the Spartans as the school’s winningest quarterback with a 35-4 record and 21-2 in regular season conference games. During his tenure, Cook captured two Big Ten championships as well as victories at the Rose Bowl and Cotton Bowl. During that same time, he also broke the school records for passing yards (9,194), touchdown passes (71) and total offense (9,403 yards).
However, even with the accolades, Cook remained one of the most polarizing players available in the draft. Through three rounds and 98 picks, he remained the top prospect available on the draft board. During his senior season, Cook was not selected to be Michigan State’s team captain, and leadership questions likely plagued his stock in the days leading up to, and throughout, the draft.
“I don’t know where (the concern) comes from, if there’s more evidence when you start for three years and they try to knock things down on ability and negative plays and all of a sudden personality,” Michigan State quarterbacks coach Salem said before the draft. “They’re making him out to be a criminal. He’s one of the more tender-hearted people you’ll meet. He cares about his teammates. He’s a guy that guys would rally around.”
In Oakland, Cook will join a team with an already settled passer, and will likely compete with Matt McGloin to be Carr’s backup.
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