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Patriots’ Brandin Cooks clocked two of NFL’s 12-fastest plays during final season with Saints

Brandin Cooks’ top speeds in 2016 exceeded 22 mph, according to Next Gen Stats.

New Orleans Saints v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Brandin Cooks ran the 40-yard dash in 4.33 seconds at the NFL Scouting Combine in 2014. He clocked a 6.76-second three-cone, 3.81 short shuttle and 10.72 60-yard shuttle there at Lucas Oil Stadium as well. He is, by all accounts, fast.

But if there were any remaining questions about just how much top-end speed the Oregon State product possesses three years after he was drafted, NFL.com’s Next Gen Stats has answers.

In miles per hour.

According to Next Gen, Cooks posted two of the league’s 12-fastest plays during the 2016 season. With the football in his hands, pads – and a radio frequency identification chip – on his shoulders, and helmet on his head, the then-New Orleans Saint raced into the company of the following burners by year’s end.

NEXT GEN’S TOP SPEEDS OF 2016

  • Tyreek Hill: 23.24 mph in Week 2
  • Tyreek Hill: 22.77 mph in Week 12
  • DeSean Jackson: 22.60 mph in Week 13
  • Stefon Diggs: 22.50 mph in Week 2
  • Xavier Rhodes: 22.40 mph in Week 11 – tied
  • Brandin Cooks: 22.40 mph in Week 1 – tied
  • Mike Wallace: 22.34 mph in Week 6
  • Marquise Goodwin: 22.25 mph in Week 2 – tied
  • Tevin Coleman: 22.25 mph in Week 5 – tied
  • Johnny Holton: 22.23 mph in Week 7
  • Travis Benjamin: 22.17 mph in Week 2
  • Brandin Cooks: 22.13 mph in Week 15

And for Cooks, the race started in the opener against the Oakland Raiders.

Cooks reached 22.13 mph on the way to a 98-yard touchdown in the third quarter of that Sept. 11 contest. His outside-releasing go route opposite cornerback Sean Smith would stand the test of time as the longest reception of the year – and also the 12th-fastest one.

The 23-year-old wide receiver traveled a 101.94-yard total distance in the process of it, per Next Gen tracking. He’d hit the apex by midfield and finished the game with 143 yards and two scores altogether.

But Cooks didn’t top out against Oakland. Fourteen weeks later, the 5-foot-10, 189-pounder ultimately reached new heights on the radar gun. This time, it was Tyrann Mathieu of the Arizona Cardinals who had a front-row seat for it in the second quarter.

Cooks ran a drag route out of trips formation and veered underneath Arizona’s off-coverage. Down the right sideline he jetted from there for a 45-yard touchdown as defensive backs distanced in the rearview.

Cooks had already scored a 65-yard touchdown on the Saints’ previous series. His second of the day, though, called upon the former first-rounder to eat up 67.87 yards. And in the process of that meandering path to the end zone – which helped him finish with a career-high 186 receiving yards – Cooks checked in with a max speed of 22.40 mph.

That tied Minnesota Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes’ 100-yard interception return from the month of November, and landed Cooks fifth among all ball-carriers by the time December turned to January.

Perhaps Cooks will go on to reset his own Next Gen bests in 2017 with the New England Patriots. Perhaps he won’t. But being able to say you can keep pace with a car through a school zone isn’t a bad consolation.

Being able to use that gift to score touchdowns certainly isn’t, either. Cooks has 21 on his NFL resume thus far.