Jared Cook: The X-Factor

Titans fans experienced a top 10 moment in Titans highlight history when Vince Young took the team 99-yards against Arizona for the game-winning score.  One of the beautiful things about “The Drive” was how well the young receivers answered the call and made that drive a success, when it had about a 1.6% chance of succeeding.  With the attention-starved Bo Scaife sitting out practices at the moment, let’s not give Scaife the attention he wants and instead focus on one of the young receivers from “The Drive” and the X-factor for the 2010 Titans offense: Jared Cook.

Reasons why he will succeed:

1. He’s too big to fail.  The man is 6’5″, 246 lbs, runs a 4.5 40 and plays in an offense that loves its tight ends…if he doesn’t have a breakout season with the Titans, it’s not going to happen anywhere.

2. He’s healthy.  Cook started the preseason outperforming everyone on the depth chart in a few games, but a foot injury severely limited his impact on the regular season.

3. He’s clutch. The highlight of his entire season was the 2 receptions for 29 yards he had on “The Drive,” but hey, what a time to come through!  He could have totally pulled a Brandon Jones and dropped those passes in the clutch, but he didn’t, so that’s a major plus for me.

4. Bo Scaife.  There’s a decent chunk of Titans fans out here hoping Scaife just kind of never comes back.  Can’t really blame them, and I’ll get into that later.  But if Scaife keeps up his bizarre behavior if and when he shows up to training camp, it could really piss of Jeff Fisher even more than he already is, which would pave the way for more reps for Cook.

Let's hope Jared Cook isn't happy with just being a Madden Guy.

Reasons why he will fail (but hopefully won’t):

1. People have been waiting for his breakout year for 2 years now.  Scouts have raved about his hands, size, and athleticism ever since he got to South Carolina, but he slid in the draft because he didn’t have the breakout junior year they were all hoping for.  If Cook doesn’t figure out how to translate his skills into NFL success, he’ll just be a Madden Guy.  Ben Troupe was a great Madden Guy, someone who totally sucked in real life but was inexplicably awesome in Madden.  Troupe was also great at letting our imaginations run wild, enabling fans to keep hoping for that one day he wakes up and just gets it.  Ben Troupe is now unemployed.

2. The Titans haven’t made a good 3rd round pick since Erron Kinney.  Kinney was a serviceable blocking tight end during his days in two-toned blue.  He was also drafted 10 years ago.  The 3rd round pick in general is one of the biggest crapshoots of the draft, as there hasn’t been a Pro Bowler from the 3rd round since Frank Gore and Justin Tuck in 2005.  Compare that to how the fifth and sixth rounds have produced a Pro Bowler in 4 of the past 5 drafts, and the 3rd round is just a big toss-up.

3. Bo Scaife.  Not a huge Scaife fan, if you haven’t noticed.  The more snaps Scaife gets means less for Jared Cook.  Scaife is an above-average tight end, Vince’s security blanket, and is proven, but I really really want to see what Cook can do.  Seeing what Vernon Davis did for the 49ers offense last season (and my fantasy team) makes me crave that explosive weapon not named Chris Johnson that much more.  If Coach Fisher lets a healthy Jared Cook loose on the field, it would go a long way in taking the kid gloves off the Titans passing attack.

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