General manager Brett Veach and the Kansas City Chiefs front office looked to one of the best defenses in college football for their second-round safety, Bryan Cook.
The 6-foot-1, 206-pounder was the fourth player the Chiefs took within the top 100 picks, along with cornerback Trent McDuffie, defensive end George Karlaftis and wide receiver Skyy Moore. The need for safety was there, and with Cook now in the mix, the success of that position group in both the short and long-term is much more sustainable.
Cook was largely unrecruited coming out of Mount Healthy High School in the Cincinnati, Ohio, area. Cook received a scholarship offer from Howard, and he was there for the 2017 and 2018 seasons. He did not play in 2019 after transferring to Cincinnati to finish out his career. He earned significant playing time in 2020 but was moved into a full-time starting role in his 2021 senior season.
Cook was a vital member of an elite collegiate secondary that also had NFL draftees Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner and Coby Bryant. He came in just shy of 100 tackles with 96 on the season, along with a sack. He also intercepted two passes and was second on the team with nine deflected passes.
Cook’s tackling ability is his best attribute, Chiefs shouldn’t have to worry much about missed tackles if he’s out there pic.twitter.com/8pZ9Lh7Loe— Talon Graff (@CoachGraff34) May 6, 2022
Cook is a brute on the field and is not shy about making contact. He plays with downhill speed in the run game and has a knack for running through his tackles. He does a great job reading and identifying the quarterback escaping the pocket. When the quarterback tries to cut back Cook already has the angle to run right through him.
Cook sees the reverse coming and gets around his blocker in time to make big stop in space pic.twitter.com/G3evqhJOZ8— Talon Graff (@CoachGraff34) May 6, 2022
Cook is also trustworthy as he dissects plays from the back of the defense. He quickly sees the reverse developing in front of him. He utilizes his speed to beat the offensive lineman to the spot. He squeezes down, forcing the play back inside where there is help and makes the tackle.
Cook takes advantage of an errant throw and makes the interception pic.twitter.com/xr5ZOtAE6P— Talon Graff (@CoachGraff34) May 6, 2022
Cook can play deep as well, and here, he makes a play in the biggest game of his career. He can break on the high throw and secure the interception. He only had two interceptions in 2021 but should be able to create more at the pro level when he gets better at leaning into his instincts.
He can sometimes be too quick to react and gets himself out of position.
Cook makes a nice tackle after the RB cuts backside, keeps the play from going anywhere pic.twitter.com/Zd8a7GjgyT— Talon Graff (@CoachGraff34) May 6, 2022
Here is some more run defending from Cook. On this play, he does a nice job staying home and not over-pursuing the play. He stays backside and is in the right spot to make the tackle after the ball carrier cuts back. He squares up, makes contact and wraps up to bring down the running back.
Bryan Cook is able to stick with the tight end on his out-and-up, gets his head turned and bats the ball away. Clean play from Cook pic.twitter.com/GOTrD3Edzi— Talon Graff (@CoachGraff34) May 6, 2022
Cook is not necessarily a liability when it comes to coverage either. He showed he could routinely cover tight ends, and here is one of his better examples. He sticks tight to his man on the out-and-up, not biting on anything, which he struggles with at times. He runs with him up the sideline and turns his head while keeping his hand on the hip. He is able to bat the ball away with his off-hand.
How he fits with the Chiefs
Kansas City lost Daniel Sorensen and Tyrann Mathieu to New Orleans in free agency. Veach addressed the departures by signing Justin Reid from Houston and also adding Devin Bush from Chicago.
Juan Thornhill is entering his final contract year, so if he leaves after 2022, Cook is slated to be the next man up to the starter. It is worth noting that Thornhill has dealt with injuries and been benched at times with the Chiefs, so if Cook impresses the coaching staff early, he could be in a more prominent role than we think.
The bottom line
The Chiefs brass clearly liked what Cook brings with him to Kansas City and liked it enough to use one of their second-rounders on him. He plays with an intimidating force and will stand out as a tackler. There are quite a few times the secondary was guilty of missed tackles, whether hindered by talent or effort. Cook has many facets to his game, and some, we have not seen too much of yet.
Occasionally, a player may get unwarranted attention due to being in such a talented defense as the Cincinnati Bearcats had in 2021. However, with such a talented defense in front of him, Cook did not have to make many plays from the safety spot, but what was asked of him was done at a high level with minimal mistakes.
His potential is there, and once he can unlock those different skill sets, he will make quite a bit of noise.