It could be argued that Houston Texans wide receiver Brandin Cooks is one of the most underrated and underappreciated wide receivers in the NFL, and has been for some time.
A first-round pick in 2014, he's recorded over 1,000 receiving yards in five of his seven seasons in the league, notched 43 touchdowns in 109 regular-season games, and has had over 100 receptions in a single season five times. Despite those gaudy statistics, he's been traded three times.
Despite playing with a rookie quarterback in an offense that has only scored three points in the last two games, Cooks is still fifth in the NFL in receptions (40).
But numbers don't reflect everything that he brings to the table. His work ethic and team leadership are invaluable, especially on a team with so many new faces.
So naturally, Cooks has drawn some extremely high praise from his head coach. But David Culley took his admiration of Cooks to a new level this week. In the Texans' receiver, Culley says he sees similarities to Hall of Famer Terrell Owens.
Caserio Reveals Grades For Texans Draft Class
Houston Texans general manager Nick Caserio evaluated their rookie class' performances so far.
Which Texans' Secret Weapon Fueled Decent Draft Class?
The Houston Texans had little to work with, but have put together a strong rookie class, helped along the way by Dylan Thompson.
Texans Sign Cowboys Ex RB; Danny Amendola Gets Knee Surgery
Houston Texans Tracker for 2021: Check back often as we keep you up-to-date on Texans NFL news as Houston works on its roster-building
"I felt like (Owens) was as good a practice player as I've ever been around. Brandin Cooks is right in there," Culley said. "He comes to work. He knows his job. He's very skilled at what he does. He's not only just a heck of a receiver but [what] he does in the run game, all the little things. And he always plays big. And what I'm saying there is that when that ball is up in the air, he's not a very big guy playing the position, but he plays big. And he plays consistent. And he plays the game the right way all the time."
And it isn't just his impact on the field that has been extremely beneficial for this year's Texans, but his coaching of his younger teammates such as rookie receiver Nico Collins.
"I've seen them (younger teammates) coming up to him all the time [saying] 'what do you do when you go home? Other than take care of your family,'" Culley said. "He (Cooks) says 'I get my iPad out, I look at things that I've done not correctly, correct them, I see the game plan, I hit the game plan so when I come in the next day I'm ahead of the schedule, I kind of know what's getting ready to go on and I'm able to retain things better, I'm able to do what I need to do, and play at a consistent level to be able to help us win football games.'"
Cooks' drive to be successful is undeniable. Look no further than his post-game press conference on Sunday where he described this Texans team as "undisciplined."
"That’s an individual thing," Cooks said. "You can’t make anyone be disciplined. You’ve got to want to be disciplined. Do you want to be that or not? It’s as simple as that. Success is not a gimmick. Discipline is not a gimmick."
Whether or not Cooks is on the same level as Owens - a five-time All-Pro and six-time Pro Bowler - is up for debate. But given his impact both on and off the field, Cooks is an extremely underrated player and undeniably the best the Texans have.