Rams

Brandin Cooks’ reliability on deep passes should help Jared Goff immensely

The Los Angeles Rams acquired Sammy Watkins last offseason in an attempt to add a true deep threat. Robert Woods has good speed, but he wasn’t viewed as a true downfield weapon like Watkins was.

Unfortunately, that experiment didn’t work in the Rams’ favor with Watkins leaving town after a mediocre 39-catch, 593-yard season, signing a $48 million contract with the Chiefs. Les Snead and the front office doubled-down at wide receiver this offseason by trading a first-round pick to the Patriots for Brandin Cooks, but how does he compare to Watkins as a deep threat.

The numbers suggest Cooks is the better option in that regard. Not only is he one of two receivers to have 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns in each of the past two seasons – Antonio Brown is the other – but he’s proved to be one of the best downfield targets in the NFL.

Via Pro Football Focus:

Since entering the league in 2014, Cooks has amassed 1,794 yards from passes that traveled at least 20 yards in the air, which is second only to Julio Jones in that span, and he’s generated a catch rate of 44.9 percent and a passer rating of 101.4 on such throws – which rank second and eighth among receivers with at least 75 deep targets in that span, respectively.

Jared Goff doesn’t have a big arm and isn’t going to take deep shots the way Matthew Stafford and Aaron Rodgers do, but he’s certainly capable of moving the ball downfield with deep passes. Although he struggled to connect with Watkins on such passes last season, he showed in college that he can be accurate on passes 20-plus yards downfield.

Last season, he was the sixth-most accurate quarterback on deep passes, according to PFF, so adding Cooks’ reliability in that area should only help Goff improve. And with Kupp and Woods working underneath, the Rams have solid targets at all three levels.

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