Is Losing Brandin Cooks Really a Big Deal for LA?

Brandin Cooks, after a season where he had 42 catches for 583 yards and 2 receiving touchdowns, was shipped off to Houston this offseason. The speed demon in 2018 helped ignite the Rams offense by posting an 80 catch, 1200 yard, and 5 touchdown stat line, but Cooks in 2019 was nowhere near as productive as he was during the Rams Super Bowl run.

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However, Cooks was still a valuable player for Jared Goff and Sean McVay, as his speed caused mismatches on the outside. His ability to stretch the field allowed for Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods, who combined for over 180 catches last season, to gain space in the passing game. Although the Rams are now missing a speedster in their aerial attack, Brandin Cooks’ departure won’t be missed for two reasons.

Firstly, the Rams have two capable wideouts in Josh Reynolds and Van Jefferson to replace Cooks. Reynolds saw a decline in production last year, but his 2018 campaign proved that he could be a valuable and reliable target for Jared Goff. In 2018, Reynolds had 29 catches for 402 yards and 5 receiving touchdowns. Next season, as the favorite to be the Rams third wideout, Reynolds could easily put up 40 catches for 650 yards and 5 touchdowns as he’s sure to gain an increase in targets without Cooks in town.

The Rams also drafted Van Jefferson in the 2nd Round of the 2020 NFL Draft, as a possible replacement for Cooks. As a Gator last season, Jefferson had 49 catches for 657 yards and 6 receiving touchdowns. He isn’t a game breaker, but Jefferson is an excellent route runner who could add another dimension to the Rams aerial attack. Although he's a little old for a rookie, Jefferson’s size and skillset could be crucial for the Rams passing game in the future. Him and Reynolds are both really solid options as the Rams look to replace the 40 catches and nearly 600 yards that Brandin Cooks had last season.

Secondly, as the season progressed last year, Sean McVay slowly shied away from utilizing three receiver sets, meaning that the Rams didn’t need to have Cooks on the field, as they already had two great receivers in Woods and Kupp who are more versatile as route runners and red zone targets. If you look at McVay’s personnel groupings last season, he played a majority of three receiver sets which would have incorporated Cooks, yet McVay found a lot of success in 12 personnel, which only needs two receivers, two tight ends, and a running back. If McVay looks to continue utilizing an increased amount of 12 personnel, then the Rams would have Tyler Higbee, Gerald Everett, Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, and Cam Akers or Darrell Henderson on the field, even if Cooks was still in Los Angeles.

Although Brandin Cooks’ ability to open up the Rams passing game has proved to be useful in the past, losing Cooks won’t have a drastic change to the Rams offense. Los Angeles has other capable wide receivers on the roster, and Sean McVay has hinted at incorporating less three receiver looks in the Rams passing game. Therefore, the decision to move Cooks’ contract may not actually affect the Rams offense all that much in 2020, as the Rams look to bounce back from a disappointing 9-7 campaign next season.

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