AFC East Q&A:Who is the best newer?

When asked the question “Who is the best newcomer in the division?” ESPN.com’s AFC East reporters were all in agreement: The New England Patriots made the best move with the addition of wide receiver Brandin Cooks.

Mike Rodak, Buffalo Bills reporter: Patriots WR Brandin Cooks. Acquiring Cooks, who has the eighth-most receiving yards in the NFL since 2015, was the source of further frustration for fans of New England’s opponents in the AFC East. How do the rich keep getting richer? In this case, the Patriots broke their habit of stockpiling draft picks by trading their first-round pick for Cooks and making further moves that left them with only four total selections in 2017. An argument can be made that the Patriots might get hurt down the road by not taking advantage of what was considered a deep draft, but it cannot be debated that Cooks is the best player to join the division. He solidifies the Patriots’ status as favorites to repeat as Super Bowl champions.

Patriots wide receiver Brandin Cooks (14) can be described as a younger, faster version of Julian Edelman (11).

Patriots wide receiver Brandin Cooks (14) can be described as a younger, faster version of Julian Edelman (11).

James Walker, Miami Dolphins reporter: The Patriots acquiring Cooks was a smart move on so many levels. Cooks brings a speed element and big-play threat at receiver that New England hasn’t had since Randy Moss. Add in the healthy return of tight end Rob Gronkowski and this could be one of the best offenses Tom Brady has led in his Hall of Fame career. Even financially, this is a steal for New England. Cooks will be its fourth-highest-paid receiver this year at $1.563 million. Cooks makes less than Danny Amendola ($1.7 million) and Chris Hogan ($3 million) but could post better numbers than both of his teammates combined.

Mike Reiss, New England Patriots reporter: On the second day of Patriots mandatory minicamp, I watched Cooks run a crossing route from right to left, catch a pass from Brady, and then accelerate up the left sideline and just keep running. Watching him pull away from undrafted rookie defensive back Kenny Moore and others in pursuit, Cooks reminded me of a thoroughbred horse coming down the homestretch with the end zone representing the finish line. He can fly, giving the Patriots a home run threat they haven’t previously had on the roster. Cooks arrived in New England in March as a top-caliber talent, having posted back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, so choosing him as best newcomer is a slam dunk. One question is how he’ll fare in some poor weather conditions, which are inevitable in New England, after having played more than half of his games in comfy domes from 2014 through 2016.

Rich Cimini, New York Jets reporter: In my opinion, this is a no-brainer — Cooks. He’s an ideal wide receiver for the Patriots’ offense — undersized but explosive, capable of turning a short crossing route into a 30-yard gain. Basically he’s a younger, faster version of Julian Edelman, and he will be a tough cover for any team. Tom Brady & Co. will be difficult to defend when they’re in a three-receiver look, and they’ll be tough to defend when it’s a two-tight end package. Get the picture? I could easily see Cooks with 80 catches and 1,100 yards this season. Cooks will be only 24 in September, so he has a lot of good football ahead of him. The only downside for the Patriots is that he has only two years left on his contract, counting the fifth-year option.

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