With one game left in the 2017 regular season, Brandin Cooks has himself quadruple digits.
The first-year New England Patriots wideout needed 16 receiving yards to get there on Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium. But they wouldn’t arrive easily against the Buffalo Bills. Cooks had zero at halftime and 14 in the third quarter.
Though by the time the score read 37-16, those couple straggling yards had been surpassed at last.
On a chain-moving hitch route with 11:25 to go in the fourth, Cooks joined five-time Pro Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski in the Patriots’ 1,000-yard club. It was the second and final pass that Cooks would snare from quarterback Tom Brady in the Christmas Eve matchup with Buffalo, and it brought him from 984 yards through 14 games to 1,003 yards through 15 games.
It’s the third consecutive campaign in which the 24-year-old has hit the milestone.
COOKS’ RECEIVING YARDS BY SEASON
- 2014: 550 yards in 10 games – 55 per game
- 2015: 1,138 yards in 16 games – 71 per game
- 2016: 1,173 yards in 16 games – 73.3 per game
- 2017: 1,003 yards in 15 games – 66.8 per game
Cooks amassed 1,138 yards and nine touchdowns on 84 catches for the New Orleans Saints in 2015, then tacked on 1,173 yards and eight more touchdowns on 78 catches in 2016 before landing in Foxborough in exchange for first- and third-round draft picks on March 10.
The Oregon State product has, almost quietly, picked up where he left off. At his age, not too many have faster.
The only wide receiver in NFL history to post 1,000 receiving yards four times before his 25th birthday, according to Pro Football Reference, is Randy Moss. John Jefferson, Mike Evans and Odell Beckham Jr. are the others who’ve accomplished the feat three times since the 1970 merger – and Evans still has 60 minutes left in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ season to make it four.
MOST 1,000-YARD YEARS AMONG POST-MERGER WIDEOUTS BEFORE 25
- Four: Randy Moss
- Three: John Jefferson, Odell Beckham Jr., Mike Evans, Brandin Cooks
- Two: Tony Hill, Cris Collinsworth, Isaac Bruce, David Boston, Larry Fitzgerald, Marques Colston, Brandon Marshall, DeSean Jackson, Hakeem Nicks, A.J. Green, Alshon Jeffery, DeAndre Hopkins, Jarvis Landry, Amari Cooper, Michael Thomas
Select company. The same certainly goes for the 15 who’ve done so twice over the last 47 seasons.
Cooks has the sixth-most career receiving yards of any under-25 wideout during that span, per PFR’s archives. And while his rookie season ended on injured reserve with a broken thumb after 10 appearances, he has managed to play in 57 of a possible 63 games en route to that accumulation.
CUMULATIVE RECEIVING YARDS FOR UNDER-25 WIDEOUTS SINCE 1970
- 5,396 in 64 games: Randy Moss
- 4,544 in 60 games: Larry Fitzgerald
- 4,524 in 60 games: Mike Evans
- 4,487 in 64 games: DeAndre Hopkins
- 4,122 in 43 games: Odell Beckham Jr.
- 3,864 in 57 games: Brandin Cooks
Next Sunday will mark game No. 58 for No. 14.
Cooks would need a lofty 171 yards in New England’s finale versus the New York Jets to set a new single-season career-high, and is currently on pace for 1,069. Whether or not he eclipses that pace on Dec. 31 is up in the air like a single-coverage deep ball headed his way, of course. But the 2014 first-rounder is averaging a personal-best 16.7 yards per reception – with seven of which gaining 40-plus yards and six netting touchdowns – leading up to it.
Which bears noting: More than 30 players around the league have caught more passes than Cooks has in 2017.
But 1,000 yards is 1,000 yards. Cooks, who will turn 25 on Sept. 25, again has his.