Continuing on with our post-draft Q&A series, we’re speaking with Evan Ertel from For Whom The Cowbell Tolls, the Mississippi State SB Nation website, on punter Logan Cooke. Why? Because punters are people too, damn it!
Ironically enough, Evan is both a huge Mississippi State fan and Jacksonville Jaguars fan, so the opportunity to connect was meant to be.
“As a longtime reader of BCC, as well as being a lifelong Jaguars and MSU fan, this is quite the perfect trifecta of my life’s passions,” he said.
Well now you’re in the big leagues, Evan! The front page of Big Cat Country. So let’s see what he has to say regarding Jacksonville’s seventh-round pick, and presumably the only sure starter to come out of the draft for the Jaguars.
RO: The Jaguars have cut veteran punter Brad Nortman, so the job is currently Logan Cooke’s to lose. What can the Jaguars expect out of their new, shiny punter (coffin corner specialist, good at flipping field position, strong leg, etc.)?
EE: The number one thing I remember form watching Cooke punt at MSU is that the guy is consistent. He always had exceptional hangtime on his punts and it often allowed the special teams unit their best chance to cover the punt with minimal yards gained. On the other hand, I do remember from time to time he would out-kick his coverage, although I see this as a very fixable problem with an increase in the speed of players he’ll have on his coverage unit (SEC speed is fun and all, but NFL speed is a different story). Overall, he has a tremendous leg that I think offseason work in training camp with some coaching, can really become a weapon for the Jags special teams. I would not be surprised if we saw Cooke step into a kickoff specialist role for the Jaguars as well.
RO: Cooke averaged 41.7 yards per punt, had a knack for pinning opposing offenses inside the 20-yard line and, correct me if i’m wrong, but also handled kickoffs for the Bulldogs. The Jaguars are set at placekicker with Josh Lambo, but could Cooke be a potential kickoff specialist for the Jags?
EE: I probably should have read all of the questions before I started answering them, oh well. I absolutely think he has the potential to step into a kickoff specialist role. He consistently put kicks through the back of the end zone game after game at MSU and I do not expect that to change in Jacksonville.
RO: Cooke is not your ordinary punter at 6-feet-five-inches tall and nearly 230 pounds. Are there any instance of him laying the wood on somebody or making any other plays you wouldn’t normally expect from a punter? What is your most memorable play from Cooke, if you have one?
EE: While I don’t really remember any outstanding displays of his athleticism on the field as far as tackling goes, his height does give him the unique ability to be able to snag snaps that may be outside of your average punter’s catch radius. It’s an attribute that won’t be seen on every punt, but could make for some very key plays that might otherwise turn south rather quickly if the ball were to sail over his head.
RO: You told me that you’ve actually had a few classes with Cooke. How is he off of the field? What kind of person are the Jaguars bringing into the locker room?
EE: If I remember correctly, I think I had a total of three classes with Cooke and the number one thing I can say about him as a person is that he is country as hell. He’s from Columbia, Mississippi, a town that’s just about halfway between Hattiesburg and Baton Rouge, so if you know the area, you can make your own inferences about what his favorite non-football activities are (there’s not much to do there but hunt, fish and drink). I mean, the guy wrote an entire 1,000 word paper on turkey hunting one time for our Feature Writing class. The Jaguars may have found their next Brad Meester of a character, and I can only hope he breaks out a camo blazer at some point in his career.
RO: You normally don’t expect punters to get drafted, as a bevy of punters will likely be available as undrafted free agents. Jaguars executive VP of football operations Tom Coughlin noted that they grabbed Cooke due to a run on punters. Did you actually expect Cooke to get drafted, and what set him apart from other punters in order to be drafted?
EE: No, seeing his name pop up was quite the surprise, but it was very cool to see that it was my beloved Jaguars that selected him. I think what really made him a desirable name was his consistency with his punts and the possibility to make him a kickoff specialist. A part of me also feels like his size played a part, it can really give the Jags some possibilities in the punt fake department, as we all know (Doug) Marrone loves to dabble in some good trickery. Cooke also spent some time with the MSU baseball team as a lefty pitcher before their 2017 campaign, but didn’t make the opening day roster, so he’s got some solid arm strength to go along with his kicking ability (I’m really banking on seeing him throw at least one pass off of a fake punt this season).
Update: We have found the fake punt highlight thanks to @MarronesNeck! Check out Cooke turning a fourth-and-two into a first down.
RO: Bonus question, as both a huge Jaguars and Bulldogs fan, how excited were you about this pick?
EE: Very. It has been some time since a Mississippi State Bulldog was brought to Duval and I couldn’t be happier for it to be Logan. To be honest, the coolest part of all of this is that I now officially have an NFL players’ phone number. Hopefully he doesn’t change it.
Editor’s note: Here’s another Cooke highlight, where you can see him pin the Alabama offense back near the goal line, and practice his golf swing while he’s at it (skip to the 1:30 mark).
Here's some field level first half Mississippi State/Alabama highlights. Couple Aeris Williams TDs, couple defensive stops, and Logan Cooke's great punt and golf swing #ForTheBrand #HailState pic.twitter.com/nYpciZWySx— Chris Hudgison (@ChrisHudgison) November 12, 2017
While it may be difficult to come up with in-depth, analytical type questions and answers for punters, Evan and I had fun with it and he was able to provide great insights and help us get to know Jacksonville’s new punter a lot better. A huge thank you to him.
Make sure to follow Evan on Twitter, if you don’t already, and please give For Whom the Cowbell Tolls a follow as well.
What kind of impact do you see Cooke making in terms of helping the Jaguars win the field position battle? Are you comfortable with Cooke over Nortman? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.