Jared Cook deserves to be a Pro Bowler.
Ten seasons in, the 31-year-old from Birmingham, Ala., is having a career-year, and he still has four games left to add to his current totals.
During the Oakland Raiders' Week 13 battle against the Kansas City Chiefs, Cook tied his career high in receptions (54) — which he set last year in his first season with the Raiders — and set a new career high in touchdowns with six, courtesy of his 24-yard score. For the second-straight season, Cook will most-likely finish the season as the Raiders leading receiver. The former South Carolina Gamecock currently has 709 receiving yards, and if he can stay healthy, he's going to shatter his career high of 759 yards. In addition, No. 87 has the highest catch percentage (69.02) of his career, and is averaging the most yards per game (59.1) of his career.
Cook has played at a high level ever since he joined the Silver and Black, and the reason for his success could be the product of a few things, but Head Coach Jon Gruden thinks he's been capable of this kind of production since he entered the league.
"He's always been a good tight end, he's had good numbers, and good statistics in Tennessee, St. Louis, and Green Bay, and he had good numbers here last year," Gruden said Wednesday. "We're just trying to do our best to feature him every way we know how. He's also doing a lot in pass protection and the running game, he's got to be a Pro Bowl tight end this year I would think."
Cook's stats speak for itself, and I'm determined to make sure he's on a flight to Orlando in 2019. Among all NFL tight ends, he currently ranks fourth in receiving yards, behind Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz, and George Kittle; however, Cook is tied for third in touchdowns with Ertz. There's no disputing that he's in the upper echelon of tight ends this season, and he should be rewarded as such. He's currently the second tight end in the AFC in receiving yards, and yards per game. Cook has been a fixture in the Raiders offense the last two seasons, and his connection with quarterback Derek Carr has been a pleasant sight to watch develop.
"I think that everyone can continue to grow," Carr said in reference to his connection with Cook. "Same thing when 'Crab' [Michael Crabtree] got here, same thing when 'Coop' [Amari Cooper] first got here. If we're both willing to work at it we're going to get things done. That's the thing about 'Cookie' [Jared Cook], man, he has been relentless. His film study, and his communication with me, and it gives me confidence on big plays, or third downs, or got-to-have-it situations, or anything like that. If we get the look, or the matchup, or the coverage, to check a play to him, or to go to him versus tight coverage even. There's been times when it gets a little aggressive throwing to Cook, but I just trust him that much.
"Him and I, we've had a great relationship since he got here, and we're just continuing to grow. It's a lot of fun, to have someone like that, that just loves to work, to have somebody that just wants to work his tail off, and wants to execute on the field, and loves playing football, loves the games, how does a quarterback not like a guy like that?"
The Silver and Black have officially been eliminated from playoff contention, but the team is still finding ways to have fun on the field. Not only are they having fun, but the players in the locker room refuse to go down without a fight, and Cook has put that on full display with plays like these.
Cook is putting the league on notice this season, and defenses are finally starting to respect his talent.
"In short, he's the guy right now," tackle Brandon Parker said. "I think other teams are starting to notice too, they're starting to zero in on him, try to double cover him and stuff. He shows up week in and week out, and just contributes for us."
Raider Nation, help Cook earn the first Pro Bowl bid of his career by voting at http://www.nfl.com/probowl/ballot?team=OAK. You can also vote for Jared Cook on Twitter by tweeting his name with the hashtag #ProBowlVote included.
Voting ends December 13, so make sure to get your votes in before next Thursday.