Jared Cook Is NFL's Next Superstar Tight End After Breakout vs. Cardinals

Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistSeptember 8, 2013

Sep 8, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams tight end Jared Cook (89) is tackled by Arizona Cardinals cornerback Jerraud Powers (25) during the second half at Edward Jones Dome. St. Louis defeated Arizona 27-24. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Shannon Sharpe. Tony Gonzalez. Antonio Gates.

Jared Cook?

Don't laugh, the 26-year-old Cook is in a new home. After one game, Cook has demonstrated to all he is about to take the NFL by storm.

Cook spent four years in NFL purgatory with the Tennessee Titans before joining the St. Louis Rams this offseason on a five year, $35.1 million deal.

Expectations were not exactly through the roof for Cook, but mild in a passing offense with potential for an athlete of his size. After all, Cook had never recorded over 759 yards receiving or four touchdowns in a season during his time in the league.

After one game in a friendlier system, Cook is on his way to super-stardom.

Week 1 against the Arizona Cardinals more than solidified Cook's status as a top tight end in the league. He was the most important player on the field for the Rams' offense, bringing in seven receptions for 141 yards and two scores.

The worst part? Cook fumbled at the goal line when Cardinals corner Tyrann Mathieu stripped him, otherwise he would have tallied three touchdowns.

In one game, Cook caught half of his total touchdowns from a year ago, and a fourth of his career touchdowns overall. He's on pace to flirt with tripling his best career receptions for a season. He had only recorded two 100-yard games in four seasons.

Kudos to the Rams for finding such a rare talent, but one has to wonder what was going on over in Tennessee. Cook played in 59 games with the Titans, but only started 11. He averaged just 22 snaps per game on a team that clearly had no intention of putting his talents to use.

Now Cook has new career highs in yards and touchdowns for a game, including three receptions that went for over 25 yards.

It's clear Cook is the main option on the offense in St. Louis. The next highest-targeted player by quarterback Sam Bradford was rookie receiver Tavon Austin, who only had six receptions for 41 yards.

It would be outlandish to expect Cook to have similar production each week, but on a pass-happy offense with no true threats outside of a rookie, the 6'5", 250 pound tight end with sub 4.5 40-yard-dash numbers is going to do some damage each week when the Rams spread the field.

Cook is off to a hot start with the Rams, and it almost seems like the beginning of a new career. While he has always had the physical tools to succeed—no, dominate—Cook has needed the right situation and quarterback.

The pieces to the puzzle have finally aligned, and Cook looks like the next big thing in a league that is trending toward star tight ends as the focal point of an offense.

In an unexpected turn of events, Cook may end up leading that trend as he sets the league on fire.



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