The best case for newest New England Patriots wide receiver Brandin Cooks being a No. 1-caliber receiver is this: Three players have recorded 75 receptions, 1,000 receiving yards and eight touchdowns in each of the past two seasons. Cooks is one. The other two are Odell Beckham Jr. and Antonio Brown. Beckham and Brown made the Pro Bowl in both seasons. Cooks made it in neither.
Cooks' 215 career receptions matched the New Orleans record for the most by a Saints player in his first three seasons, along with Marques Colston and Jimmy Graham. His 2,861 receiving yards in that span are topped in Saints history only by Colston, who had 3,000 yards from 2006 to 2008.
In that time, Cooks is the only NFL player who has a touchdown reception in every possible 10-yard segment (meaning 10 to 19 yards, 20 to 29, etc.). His 98-yard reception against the Oakland Raiders was the longest in the NFL last season.
Cooks had 18 receptions on passes thrown at least 15 yards downfield in 2016. The last Patriots player to have that many was Wes Welker in 2011 with 19.
Last season, Cooks tied for the NFL lead in receptions of 40 yards or longer with six. That matched A.J. Green, Travis Benjamin, Beckham, Sammie Coates and Tyrell Williams. Those six receptions were one fewer than he had in the previous two seasons combined. The Patriots tied for 14th with nine such receptions this past season.
Cooks has increased his average yards per reception from 10.4 to 13.5 to 15.0 in his three seasons. The latter ranked 14th in the NFL last season. One Patriots player ranked higher -- Chris Hogan (17.9).