Improbable Raiders draft pick Connor Cook glad he found a home in Oakland

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- In one corner of the conspiracy universe, the Oakland Raiders traded up to draft Connor Cook to block the Dallas Cowboys, who were more than interested in selecting the Michigan State quarterback.

Payback, you see, for Cowboys owner Jerry Jones playing such an instrumental role in thwarting the Raiders’ move to Los Angeles with his turning the majority of owners from the recommended plan of the Raiders and San Diego Chargers playing in Carson to Stan Kroenke’s proposal for his Rams in Inglewood.

The official story, though? The Raiders simply saw something shiny they liked in Cook at the top of the fourth round on Saturday and struck, moving up 14 spots to No. 100. Yes, even if they already have a franchise quarterback in Derek Carr and a more-than-serviceable backup in Matt McGloin.

Because remember, a popular line of thinking says a team should draft a quarterback every three years or so anyway, just to keep things from getting stale. The Raiders, then, just so happened to draft a top four-ranked QB … two years after drafting Carr in the second round.

What does it all mean?

“He’s a good player,” Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said. “We just felt like he was too good of a player not to try (to acquire).

“We had a good grade on him and we just wanted to seize the opportunity to at least try to get a good player in here.”

Besides, McKenzie could only sit and watch in 2013 as the Philadelphia Eagles traded up in front of the Raiders to draft a QB target in USC’s Matt Barkley.

But what does it mean as far as Carr, who passed for 3,987 yards with 32 touchdowns and 13 interceptions for a 91.1 passer rating last season, is concerned?

McKenzie shook his head.

“Derek’s our quarterback,” McKenzie said. “Whoever we bring in, we’re just looking (at it like), Can he help us? Can he add to the depth? Can he help out the team? That was the only reason we went after him.”

Cook, a three-year starter at Michigan State, ended his college career as the winningest quarterback in school history at 34-5, including 23-2 against the Big 10.

He passed for 3,131 yards and 24 TDs with seven INTs while completing 56.1 percent of his passes last season in a prototypical pro offense for the Spartans. Questions about his leadership and purported lack of humility seemingly led to his still being available on Day 3 of the NFL draft.

Not that Cook is sweating it, so to speak.

“I don’t think you can win that many games and be that successful at a program without being a leader,” Cook said. “I think all that stuff was just so far from the truth and, you know, everything will work itself out. If people want to talk and say all that stuff and they’ve never even sat down and talked to me or got to know me as a person … I’m just looking forward to this whole new journey and getting a chance to be a part of a great organization and just go out there and compete.”

Cook was the seventh quarterback selected.

“Anytime you see another quarterback get drafted in front of you, it hurts,” Cook said. “I’m a competitor. Obviously, I think I’m one of the best quarterbacks in this draft class, but nothing is ever easy and nothing is ever perfect.”

Such as starting over … as a backup.

“Looking at it, Derek Carr is obviously a great quarterback (so I’m) going to go in there and learn from him, trying to compete obviously, and you have great guys on offense.

“I’m glad that I found a home. It was a little bit of a wait, but I’m glad the whole process is over.”

Or just beginning, conspiracy or not.