Newly acquired wide receiver Brandin Cooks introduced as a Texan.

Texans WR Brandin Cooks coming in to help the team win, not replace Hopkins

For the third time in four years, an organization introduced Brandin Cooks as the newest member of their football family. This time around, his introduction was drastically different. Instead of dressing to impress in a room full of local reporters, Cooks casually dressed in the comfort of his own home, as the Houston Texans welcome their newly acquired wide receiver during a virtual press conference via Zoom on Thursday.

After spending the past two seasons as a member of the Los Angeles Rams, Cooks, 26, was traded to the Texans in early April in exchange for a second-round 2020 draft pick — used to select Van Jefferson, wideout from Florida.

"The way I look at it, I am wanted and valued at a high level," Cooks said. "To be honest, I am blessed to be able to play with so many different teams, quarterbacks and organizations. I don't think of it as a negative, and I am a guy who can adjust pretty quickly. Wherever I go, I am going to ball."

Ingraining himself into a new system is a challenge all too familiar for Cooks. But similar to his press conference, Cooks must try to get accustomed to his new teammates in Houston virtually amid in the midst of a global pandemic. With training facilities closed, Cooks has taken the initiative to work out at his home, leading by example that this is not the time to relax but to stay ready.

"The most important thing is, whenever we are able to go back, I tell the guys is just be in shape and not taking this time as a time to relax or to sit back," he said. "Just because you never know when we're able to get back out there as a team so you want to be ready."

Right off the bat, Cooks clarified that his main goal in Houston is to help the team win, and not the standpoint of replacing DeAndre Hopkins' on-field production. While playing alongside two other receivers who share similar skill sets (Will Fuller and Kenny Stills), leadership and the lessons he learned throughout his six-year pro career is what Cooks is hoping to bring to the locker room in Houston.

"I think from a bigger standpoint, just a leadership role, just the way that I go about the game and my process, just being a veteran voice in that room with the special guys that are all the way around," he said. "I've been blessed and fortunate to play with such special quarterbacks. I look forward to just sharing that knowledge that I've learned from them with guys in the locker room."

Originally drafted in the first round (No. 20 overall) by the New Orleans Saints in 2014, the prodigy out of Oregon State University has recorded 5,730 receiving yards and 34 touchdowns throughout his career. With the Texans, Cooks will be able to add Deshaun Watson's name to an impressive list of quarterbacks he has played alongside — which includes two Hall of Famers Drew Brees and Tom Brady, as well as the two-time Pro Bowler Jared Goff.

While trying to learn his new quarterback through film, what excites Cooks the most is the similar characteristics he sees in Watson when compared to Brees and Brady.

"He makes every single throw just like those guys, and just from the little bit that I'm gaining from him, his process and his hunger and his drive and dedication is there as well.," he said. "That's what I've learned from those guys and saw from them every single day. So, I look forward to getting with him in person and really see that come alive."

In a world that seems foreign, the one familiarity Cooks has as he joins the Texans is his relationship with Executive Vice President of Football Operations, Jack Easterby. Prior to his two-year stint with the Rams, Cooks played one season with the Patriots in 2017 and bonded with Easterby — who severed as the then-character and team development in New England.

"I can't say enough about a guy like Jack Easterby and what he's meant to me and my life just in that one year that I got to know him while I was in New England," he said. "He's a special human being not just for me, but for my family, and to be reunited is definitely a blessing."

After recording over 1,000 receiving yards for four straight seasons, 2019 marked the first time since his rookie year Cooks failed to achieve the feat. He appeared in 14 out of the possible 16 games and posted 583 yards on a career-low 42 receptions. Determined to put aside the disappointment from last season, Cooks says 2019 does not represent the player who he is.

"I think there were a lot of nuances that was going on last year, not just for me but from a team standpoint," Cooks said. "We had a lot going on and at the end of the day, I dealt with some things on the field, but that does not go to show what type of player I am, the production I've been putting in year in and year out since I've been in the league."

"That was just one of those off years, but it comes with the game. That definitely is not the trend that you should be looking for from me as a player." — Cooks

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The Rockets selected Jalen Green with the No. 2 pick. Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images.

The city of Houston can finally rejoice as Jalen Green was selected as the number two pick by the Rockets at the 2021 NBA Draft. It was already suspected that the Rockets would draft Green from past reports. Shams Charania of The Athletic already reported that the Rockets narrowed their decision down to Green.

Green is an explosive shooting guard that can get in-and-out amongst the perimeter and paint. With the G-League Ignite, he averaged 17.9 points, 2.8 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. He is an excellent free throw shooter at 82.9 percent. Like James Harden, he is incredibly good at getting to the free throw line. Green has a good trigger from three by shooting 36.5 percent on 5.7 attempts a game. His mature status since high school has prepared him for the NBA.

"His down-hill playmaking is really hard to guard", as Joey Fucca, his ex-coach told TDS. "If he says he's going to get to the rim, good luck. He is very good at getting to the free throw line, he is also very explosive to finish above the rim. When his three ball is on, you're just going to have a long night. I wouldn't be excited to guard him."

Green has blistering speed with outstanding handles to blow by his defenders and score. Spectators have compared Green to a younger Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, Bradley Beal, and Zach Lavine, which are superstar players. He is a particularly good midrange shooter underneath the perimeter, as he shot 35 percent on a small quantity of attempts in a shorter season.

"Jalen is a uniquely blessed guy. He's a transcendent athlete," as Rockets GM Rafael Stone said. "He can handle the ball, and he can shoot. Normally, people that athletic aren't as skilled. We think that combination of tools makes him an extraordinarily exciting prospect."

During his press conference on Thursday night, Green emphasized the achievements he wants to accomplish with the Rockets. Green even discussed his desire of being a better defender, as he wants to continue to get better. He has a great wingspan and lateral movement to stay with opposing players on defense and be disruptive in the passing lanes.

"They're going to say it's a great choice," Green said. "Rookie of the Year, All-Star, All-Defense, max contract. We're doing it big."

"Yeah, I think I can be that piece. I think I'm going to bring that dominant mentality, that defensive mindset…They already got a lot of star players"

As the draft continued, the Rockets sent future draft picks from the Wizards to land the 16th pick in the draft, which was 6'10 Alperen Sengun from Turkey. The 16th pick did belong to the Oklahoma City Thunder until Rafael Stone executed an interesting deal with Sam Presti.

"We did not think he would fall to us at 23, so we were really aggressive to try and move up all throughout the first round to acquire him," as Stone said.

Sengun's abilities on the court revolve around his post ups and skillful passing. He even maintains good feet along the baseline. In his press conference, he mentioned his passing skills can become better. There are clips of him looking impressive on shovel passes, passing the ball behind his back, and finding the cutting man towards the basket. Sengun looked good in double teams by showing he can still find the open man with his back turned.

While playing in the Turkish Super League, Sengun was an MVP at 18-years-old, averaged 19.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.5 assist, 1.7 blocks, and 1.3 steals per game. He could be another huge figure next to Christian Wood on the court, and a safety blanket for the Rockets if they cannot bring back Kelly Olynyk.

Usman Garbua is similar to former Rocket Luc Mbah a Moute. He is 6'8 with a tremendous wingspan at 7'3 and can guard anyone on the court, which is 1-5. Garbua was seen guarding Kevin Durant in the Team USA vs. Spain matchup and had interesting battles. The Rockets will get a ton of energy out of the 19-year-old player. He knows how to run the floor in transition, so he can finish around the rim. As I see it, he could be on a defensive first team in the future as he matures more. Garbua will become a defensive nightmare against opposing players.

"I think he's the best defender in the world outside of the NBA, and he's just 19 years old," Stone said. "I think he potentially could be really, really impactful on that side of the ball."

As the Rockets made their last selection, they selected Green's AAU buddy, Josh Christopher from Arizona State. He impressed a ton of scouts during his draft workouts and scrimmage against other prospects. Christopher had a double-double during his third scrimmage, which was 16 points and 10 rebounds. He is a very shifty guard with a ferocious step back.

While playing with the Sun Devils, he averaged 14.3 points per game and shot 49 percent from the field. Just like Green, he loved the midrange opportunities, as he shot 49.6 percent underneath the perimeter. He is another shifty big body the Rockets will have in their back court at 6'5. Christopher is very good at rebounding and playing defense. Stone loves watching him in defensive one-on-one situations. Christopher has Sixth Man of the Year written all over him because of his stocky body type and upside.

Hopefully, the Rockets have an exciting summer league and training camp along with their season.

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