a second-rounder out
Brandin Cooks has been traded twice in the past 13 months despite being one of the NFL's most productive receivers over the past three years Leonard Williams Jets Jersey , so the Rams' new top target knows he probably shouldn't get completely comfortable in Los Angeles.
He's still grateful to be joining another talented team with a shot at another Super Bowl 鈥?and perhaps he can still find a long-term future at home in California, too.
"It would be an extreme blessing to be here for a long haul, coming in here to be with a special group of guys," Cooks said Thursday at the Rams' training complex. "At the end of the day, it's not something I'm pressing. I just want to come in here and be the best that I can be."
Los Angeles coach Sean McVay and general manager Les Snead praised Cooks' character and talent when they formally welcomed him to the defending NFC West champions, who had the NFL's highest-scoring offense last year.
They've been interested in acquiring Cooks since before his first trade from New Orleans to New England last March. After Cooks posted another 1,000-yard season and reached the Super Bowl with New England, the Rams finally got him Monday.
"I'm hard-pressed to remember a player that's got so many positive things said about him from different people he's been exposed to," McVay said. "You're talking about a special person and a special player. Clearly he's going to be a big part of our offense, being able to play our 'X' receiver (position) and do a variety of things."
Cooks' ability as a deep threat makes him a strong replacement for Sammy Watkins, who was acquired by the Rams last season after they failed to get Cooks. Watkins parlayed his single season in McVay's high-powered passing game into a lavish free-agent deal with Kansas City.
Cooks also can be a free agent next year, but the Rams were willing to take the risk because they're determined to build a Super Bowl contender with the payroll space available while Jared Goff is still in his rookie contract.
"Simply put, 2018 is important," Snead said. "We definitely want to repeat as NFC (West) champions Thomas Rawls Jersey Jets , but ... a lot of the players we've acquired are young and have evolved to be in the prime of their careers, and we would love to take advantage of that over not just '18, but '19, '20, '21 and moving forward."
The Rams' trades for Watkins and Cooks have left them without a pick in the first two rounds of the upcoming draft, but Snead doesn't sound terribly worried about the potential loss of organizational depth.
The Rams would rather have Cooks, who has already put together three seasons that were more productive than anything Watkins has done in the same four-year stretch. Cooks also is still three months younger than Cooper Kupp, who just finished an impressive rookie season for the Rams.
Cooks' 1,082 yards receiving with the Patriots last season were 11th-most in the NFL. He was seventh in the league with 1,173 yards in 2016 during his final season with New Orleans, and he is one of just three active players with 1,000 yards and at least five touchdowns in each of the past three seasons.
Cooks had the benefit of catching passes from Drew Brees and Tom Brady. He already seems confident in Goff's ability to provide him with similar service.
Cooks did have to playfully bat down one rumor that had already excited Rams fans: Although he has met Goff several times, and although they share the same agent, they haven't already had throwing sessions before the trade.
There's plenty of time for that now.
"I'm extremely excited about the opportunity to be able to grow with a young guy Authentic Richard Rodgers Jersey ," Cooks said. "I'm young myself, so to be able to start that rapport this offseason is going to be extremely huge. I look forward to getting to work right away."
The Atlanta Falcons are used to focusing on one or two positions in the NFL draft.
Not this year.
After a Super Bowl appearance two years ago and another trip to the playoffs last season, the Falcons are fairly content with their roster.
Oh, sure, they've got needs like every other team.
But nothing that looks too pressing.
"This draft is different than most drafts I've been involved with," said Thomas Dimitroff, entering his second decade as the Falcons' general manager.
"This is an important draft and an interesting draft. There are a number of positions we're looking at, more than other years. Other years, we really homed in on one or two positions."
The Falcons have the No. 26 pick in Thursday night's opening round.
With a lot of attention on quarterbacks such as Josh Allen, Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen and the past two Heisman Trophy winners, Baker Mayfield and Lamar Jackson, Dimitroff expects some top talent to slip all the way down to Atlanta's spot.
"There's some really legitimate contenders to help our team right away at No. 26 if we stay put," he said. "We'll always be aggressive if we see some interesting impact players who can take us to another level. But hopefully they'll get to 26."
Atlanta follows up over the final two days of the draft with selections in the second (58th overall) Cole Beasley Jersey Womens , third (90th), fourth (126th), sixth (200th) and seventh (244th) rounds. In addition, the Falcons were awarded the final pick (No. 256) as compensation for losing five players in free agency, which means they have a chance to grab the player known as "Mr. Irrelevant."
Here's some things to watch from Atlanta heading into the draft:
The Falcons will be looking for help on the interior of the defensive line after mammoth tackle Dontari Poe signed with NFC South rival Carolina during free agency.
The offensive line could get an upgrade, as well. Even though the Falcons signed guard Brandon Fusco in free agency, they are still looking for players to bolster their blocking around center Alex Mack.
The Falcons don't have a fullback on the roster after deciding not to re-sign Derrick Coleman, so look for some help at that position in the later rounds.
Also keep an eye on receiver. If someone such as Alabama's Calvin Ridley becomes available, the Falcons might jump at the chance to land a potential star who could take some of the coverage pressure off Julio Jones.
Dimitroff and coach Dan Quinn have formed an excellent working relationship after somewhat of a forced partnership.
The general manager was hired by the Falcons in 2008 and initially had total control over the draft, but he surrendered some of that power to Quinn when the coach was hired by owner Arthur Blank in 2015.
The arrangement has worked out just fine.
"It's nice for me from an experience standpoint to draft alongside one of the most tenured GMs in the league," Quinn said.
WHEELIN' AND DEALIN'
Dimitroff is always looking to make a deal on draft day.
Last year, the GM sent three picks to the Seahawks in order to move up to No. 26 鈥?the same spot the Falcons have this year 鈥?for UCLA defensive end Takkarist McKinley, feeling he would be a perfect fit in Quinn's attacking defense.
Dimitroff also traded up to get cornerback Desmond Trufant in 2013, and most notably pulled off a huge deal with Cleveland in 2011 to land Jones Patriots Elite Jerseys , who quickly developed into one of the league's top receivers and a cornerstone of the franchise. The Browns are still regretting that trade.
HITS, MISSES AND BARGAINS
QB Matt Ryan has started all but two games since Dimitroff, in his first draft, made him the No. 3 overall pick in 2008. That remains the most significant selection in franchise history.
CB Jalen Collins, a second-rounder out of LSU in 2015, continually ran afoul of drug-testing rules and wound up playing less than two full seasons for the Falcons, who released him last November after his second suspension.
DT Grady Jarrett has become a force on the defensive front since being picked in the fifth round out of Clemson in 2015. The dynamic RB duo of Devonta Freeman (fourth round, 2014) and Tevin Coleman (third round, 2013) were both bargains. LB De'Vondre Campbell was a fourth-round selection in 2016 who became an immediate starter on defense.
Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at pnewberry1963 . His work can be found at s://apnews/search/paul%20newberry
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