(Photo courtesy of Matthew Mitchell/Michigan State University)
Talk of Fame Network
Football is a quarterback’s game.
If you don’t have one, you don’t have a chance.
Our listeners and readers at The Talk of Fame Network underscored that in this week’s poll, voting Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook as the overwhelming choice to become the first overall pick of the 2016 NFL draft.
We gave voters four choices based on conversations with NFL talent evaluators – a quarterback, two pass rushers, an offensive tackle and a linebacker — and Cook wound up with 70.7 percent of the vote to easily outdistance his teammate, Shilique Calhoun, at 16.3 percent. Ohio State offensive tackle Taylor Decker finished third at 6.5 percent, followed by Oregon pass rusher DeForest Buckner at 3.6 percent and Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland at 3.0 percent.
Cook is the NFL prototype for the position at 6-4, 220 pounds with pocket presence. He has started for three seasons at Michigan State and is the school’s all-time winningest quarterback with a 31-4 record. He has engineered bowl victories over Stanford (Rose Bowl) and Baylor (Cotton Bowl) plus regular season victories over Ohio State and Oregon. Cook leads the Big Ten in passing efficiency this season with 21 touchdown passes and only four interceptions for the 9-1 and ninth-ranked Spartans.
Calhoun is a two-time All-Big Ten defensive end with 16 ½ career sacks. Thirty-five percent of his career tackles have been for a loss. Decker is a three-year starter at left tackle, protecting the quarterback’s blind side, and a second-team All-Big Ten pick in 2014.
Buckner is a three-year starter, a second-team All-Pac 12 pick in 2014 and the conference sack leader this season with 7 ½. Ragland is the leading tackler for the nation’s No. 2-ranked run defense and No. 4-ranked overall defense at Alabama. He played weakside backer in 2014 before moving inside to play middle linebacker this season.