Virginia cornerback Chris Cook (Lynchburg, Va.) was selected by the Minnesota Vikings in the second round of the 2010 National Football League Draft. He was the 34th overall selection. Cook becomes the highest drafted defensive back in Virginia history. He is also the first Cavalier to be drafted by the Minnesota franchise. Lester Lyles was the previous highest UVa defensive back taken in the draft. He was a second-round (40th overall) pick in 1985 by the New York Jets.
Cook was invited to the 2010 NFL Combine and played in the 2010 Senior Bowl.
A team captain in 2009, Cook help anchor the ACC's No. 4 and the nation's No. 21 pass defense. He finished the season ranked No. 7 in the ACC and No. 43 in the nation with four interceptions. He finished the season ranked No. 9 in the ACC with 10 passes defended.
Cook played in 38 games during his Virginia career. He intercepted seven passes for 121 yards and had 143 total tackles. He was credited with breaking up 19 passes.
Here are Cook's quotes from talking to media today followed by quotes from Vikings' head coach Brad Childress and Minnesota vice president of Player Personnel Rick Spielman.
Chris Cook Quotes
Q: Chris, what do you think about coming to Minnesota?
A: I love it. First of all, I want to thank the Wilf family. I'm excited to play at Mall of America Field (at the Metrodome) in the Twin Cities. I can't wait to get out there and show everybody what I've got.
Q: Is this a team you zeroed in on? It seems like you had a lot of contact with them prior to the draft.
A: Yes, it was one of the teams I figured had their radar on me, and I was hoping I was going to go (there). When I saw they traded out of the first round, I wasn't really sure what pick they had in the second round. When I saw they had the second pick in the second round, I thought, "Ok, yeah, hopefully my phone rings, and it has that Minnesota area code." I was just excited. I've been nervous all day and excited at the same time, a lot of mixed feelings going on today.
Q: Can you talk about what your strengths are and what kind of player they're going to get in you?
A: I'm a very physical player, and I'm a playmaker. I feel like I have great ball skills. I'm just a ballplayer. I feel like I can bring more than defense to the team. I can play special teams or anywhere on the field.
Q: Are you going to play corner here or safety? Do you know what your role is going to be?
A: Honestly, I don't know. I have no clue. But I'm looking forward to the opportunity to learn from veteran guys like Lito Sheppard, Cedric Griffin, Antoine Winfield. I'm looking forward to adding to an already good defense and try to make it better, and trying to get them to a Super Bowl. Get those two wins they need to win a Super Bowl.
Q: How difficult was that 2008 season for you? Did you feel like you needed to come out last year and reestablish yourself?
A: 2008 was one of the most trying times of my life. I was lax in the classroom and I wasn't doing my job and completing all my tasks. I paid the price for it, and I had to sit out. It was a very difficult time for me, but I had a lot of strong people behind me, a good support system with my mom and my brother and my family. They helped me stay focused and helped me get back into school and do what I had to do.
Q: Is that story true that you worked at Sears and moved refrigerators?
A: Yeah, I definitely did that. I was working at a Sears warehouse putting refrigerators and stoves and washing machines and dryers on the back of trucks and unloading trucks, taking trash out to the dump and everything.
Q: Did you ever think that you would be at this point today, or was it always in the back of your mind that you were going to do what you had to do there and get back on the football field?
A: I was always set on getting back on the football field and doing what I do. I love this game, and it killed me that I had to sit out for a year. I won't say it benefitted me, but I feel like it made me a smarter person and a stronger person, having to deal with that situation.
Q: What about the Vikings defensive system do you like the best?
A: They flock to the ball. When I watch those guys, a lot of them have an attitude about them that's like, "You won't beat me on this play or the next play." I feel like those are the type of guys that I need to be around. Like I said before, guys like Lito (Sheppard), Ced (Griffin) and Antoine Winfield. Guys like those guys that I feel like I need to be around, that can teach me things about the game that I don't know from a professional aspect because I'm just leaving college.
Q: What did Leslie Frazer tell you about what he expects from his corners? If you look at them, they are all physical and defend the run.
A: He didn't really stress those things. We never really talked too much about what he liked. I feel like I did show him something; he obviously liked what he saw on film or the private workout I had with him. I am assuming that he does like physical corners and I am a big corner and I do like to play physical. This is a good spot for me.
Q: How nervous were you going into the combine or were you nervous and how did your showing did for you?
A: My nerves were terrible at the combine. I wasn't expecting that whole experience to be as trying as it was. I was just expecting it to be a few meetings here and there, but it was late mornings and early nights. I finally did get on the field to show my skills. I got on the 40 line; everything else was fine for me except for the 40. People were telling me that I was going to run 4.6 or something like that, but when I got up there my heart just started racing and after my first 40 I ran a 4.4. I calmed down a little bit and just ran.
Q: In the seven reps on the bench press were you disappointed or is that what you were expecting?
A: I wasn't really expecting that, but I didn't know until after the combine, I actually had some torn ligaments in my shoulder. They flared up while I was on the bench press. I am not giving any excuses or anything because it is not an excuse. I am a strong guy; it is just that was a problem for me when I got on the bench press.
Q: Are you healthy now?
A: Yes, I am healthy right now.
Q: What are the most reps you have ever done?
A: The most I have ever done is 17. My best bench press is 315.
Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress
Alright guys, I know you have work to do. We went bi-coastal, Virginia and Stanford. Two bastions of higher learning, at least as far as I'm concerned. Two different flavors of football players, a bigger corner and a bigger back. We obviously like both of those kids. I think in (Chris) Cook coming out of high school he was an all-around athlete and obviously zeroed in on defensive secondary. I know he played safety and corner but we see him as a bigger corner, just a different person than we have currently on the roster. A young Leslie Frazier if you will, who wasn't too bad either.
Q: How much is this insurance with signing Lito Sheppard and drafting Chris Cook?
A: Sheppard is a good player in his own right. We just didn't want to have to really push or reach or do any of that kind of stuff. He was there and he's got some familiarity and he's a good player and kind of left (New York Jets) in some unusual circumstances there. Put it in whatever box you want to. Is it unusual to have 12 cornerbacks come in? I might digress a little bit there. Have you ever heard there is no such thing as too many cornerbacks? There is no such thing as having too many of those guys.
Q: When you and Leslie (Frazier) went down to see Cook, was there anything else that you needed to see?
A: When a guy has a pro day, you really can't go in there before a person's pro day and work them in case they pull a hamstring, but later you can have individual workouts. Like whether you see St. Louis go down and work out Sam (Bradford) after the fact. There are some things that you want to see. You want to see everything from endurance. Sometimes you have a specific drill that you want to see as a coach. I have to see him be able to do this. If I haven't seen something on tape, whether it's a quarterback throwing a comeback or a deep ball. Then you want to see him do it again and you want to see him do it again. Some of it has to do with endurance, some of them you want to see how mentally tough they are, can you break them. I know guys that go in and work guys for two hours just to see if they will spit the bit. They won't take it or think it's below their pay grade or I don't have to. There's really a variety of things. Whether it's sitting down and breaking bread with the guy. We see those guys in some pretty sterile environments, where everything is canned. Whether it's a pro day it's this drill, this drill and this drill. If you are not the guy working the guy, you don't get to see maybe something that is important to you. I mean I think that it is kind of global when we send Leslie down there.
Q: What about Cook's size - were you impressed with that, particularly how he can match up against bigger receivers?
A: Well, you'd like to think that, certainly. You don't want hear the term "zone corner" too often. When you look at the preseason games, everybody's interested if a guy can play man-to-man. Because, at some level, whether you're playing it on third (down), can he play press, can he play off? You want to be able to play bump-and-run. If you're a corner that gets one touch in five yards somewhere, you better be able to nullify a wide receiver. On the flip side, if I'm taking a wide receiver, I want a guy who can move and get off the football and nullify a corner. So, the bigger body and the longer reach, you still have to have the ability to run your feet, and that's always big for us.
Q: When Coach Frazier visited Chris Cook, was there something specific you wanted to learn?
A: No. Like I said, that's part of the experiential thing that we're trying to gauge those guys on everything, from life circumstances to background to football skills and abilities to all those kind of things. And then, look and see if they're a programmatic fit.
Vikings Vice President of Player Personnel Rick Spielman
Again, it was another pretty exciting day for us. There were a lot of phone conversations going on with our second overall pick in this round. Chris Cook knew that hopefully he was going to be there and that was one of the reasons we did the trade as well last night, taking a shot that Chris would still be there. As we went down through the draft, as this round continued, we got pretty aggressive and used our third round pick to come up and get Toby Gerhart. Both those players, we are very excited to get and I thought we've helped our roster a lot today.
Q: So you thought that highly of Toby to use that third round pick to move up?
A: Yes. Again, it gives you some flexibility. At the bottom, where we're picking in the third round and where we're picking in the fourth round tomorrow, there wasn't that much difference in picks. So, it gave us some flexibility that if there was a guy there that you really targeted, that we can go ahead and be aggressive to go get. We felt that was a very important position to go get, since we lost Chester Taylor.
Q: Is Chris Cook a guy you spent a lot of time with before the draft?
A: Yes. We saw him during the year. We saw him and visited with him down at the Senior Bowl. We spent some time with him down at the Combine and then Coach (Leslie) Frazier went out and actually spent some time with him this spring and made a home visit.
Q: Is Cook a pure cornerback or can he switch positions?
A: He has some versatility and I know some teams can look at him as a potential safety. I think we see it as something different than what we have. I mean, he's a 6'2" corner that can run and has vertical jump and very good ball skills. That he can probably get up and play press. One of the things, again, is getting on the same page as the coaches on what specific skill set you're looking for at the position and then we can go (get) those type of players, what they're describing to us. With us working with the coaches and as the coaches come in and start talking about these players after they spent time with them and when Brad Childress comes in and talks about these players, then we can put everything all together to kind of target guys that actually fit what we and potentially where we can pick those guys in the draft.
Q: You don't see him as a safety at all, but as a corner?
A: Right. As an outside corner is what we are looking at him as.
Q: Did you have Chris projected as a mid-second round pick, did you have him higher than that? Was there ever a temptation to try and trade back to get him?
A: I think that when you look at what was behind us and potential teams that needed corners, that were you willing to take that risk and potentially move back and pick up some more picks and not get a player that you wanted to take? So, we felt very strongly that when we were there, when we made the move last night to sit there, and if our guy was going to be there, then we were going to go ahead and sit there unless it was something that was too good to pass up in the trade value.
Q: You had your eye on Chris Cook for awhile, but what questions did you have about him?
A: I think this is another young kid that can come in and improve the strength. All these kids, they come in, Tom Kanavy, our strength coach, and his staff do an excellent job conditioning and strengthening these guys. He just has some rare traits from a physical ability, along with the long arms, when he gets up and presses at the line of scrimmage. Just showing the things that he showed at the Senior Bowl, and we felt that he was one of the better cornerbacks down at the Senior Bowl and there were a lot of good cornerbacks down at the Senior Bowl. In fact, all of those guys were all in the mix for us. There was very little separation in our minds between all those corners. That's where the depth of the draft, we felt, was going to be. And that's where it ended up happening.
Q: With Chris Cook, did you have to do a lot of academic and injury investigating?
A: We felt very comfortable after we went through why he was academically ineligible. We went through his whole career. That's why Leslie Frazier went down and spent some time with the coaches down there, spent some time with the kid, just to make sure we had a real good feel for him. When Leslie came back from the trip, he felt very positive about the kid.