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Does QB Case Cookus have real chance to knock Alex Tanney off Giants’ roster?

Undrafted player had intriguing college career

Northern Arizona v Arizona
Case Cookus
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Some New York Giants fans have wondered how journeyman quarterback Alex Tanney has had staying power on the team’s roster the past couple of seasons. Could there be a quarterback on the 90-man roster in 2020 who could supplant Tanney as the team’s third quarterback?

Let’s take a closer look at undrafted free agent Case Cookus, who, along with Cooper Rush, will try to knock Tanney off the roster.

The basics

Height: 6-foot-4
Weight: 205
Age: 24
Position: Quarterback
Experience: Rookie
Contract: Year 1 of three-year, $2.285 million contract

How he got here

Cookus had an impressive career for the Lumberjacks, who play in the FCS, throwing for more than 12,000 yards in 41 career games.

Here is part of what Mark Schofield wrote for us in discussing Cookus:

“Cookus enjoyed a stellar career for the Lumberjacks, who play in the Big Sky Conference at the FCS level. He was their starting quarterback from the moment he arrived on campus, and his first season as a college quarterback was a memorable one. Back in 2015 he threw for 3,111 yards and 37 touchdowns en route to winning the Jerry Rice Award, given to the most outstanding freshman in the FCS level. He was also named to the All-Big Sky First-Team. The Lumberjacks and Cookus were hoping to build on the success in his sophomore season, but Cookus suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in late September.

“Cookus returned to the starting lineup for the beginning of the 2017 campaign, and he and NAU had a very productive campaign. Cookus threw for 3,413 yards and 22 touchdowns, with just six interceptions, and he led the Lumberjacks to the FCS playoffs for the first time since 2013. They were unfortunately bounced in the first round by San Diego, losing 41-10.

“Just like 2016, the 2018 campaign ended early for Cookus. Again he suffered a season-ending injury in a game against Eastern Washington (just like 2016) to his shoulder while trying to run the football. So either Cookus has an “even-year” jinx, or he will be happy to see that EWU does not play games in the NFC East.

When he was injured back in 2016, it occurred early enough in the season that he could use a medical redshirt, which gave him an extra year of eligibility. In that final season, the 2019 campaign, Cookus had another productive year as a starting quarterback. He threw for 4,095 yards and 31 touchdowns, against just seven interceptions. The Lumberjacks, however, could not replicate their quarterback’s production and lumbered to a 4-8 finish.”

2020 outlook

Is Cookus just a camp arm? Or, is he really competition for Alex Tanney if the Giants keep three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster? In the end, the practice squad mihgt be his likely destination with Rush as the No. 3 quarterback.

One publication referred to Cookus as “the best FCS quarterback prospect since Jimmy Garoppolo.”

That seems like hyperbole considering that Cookus went undrafted. Still, it is an indication that there are evaluators who believe Cookus has NFL talent.

Schofield points out that there are plenty of NFL throws and NFL-caliber reads on Cookus’s tape. There are also, though, durability concerns after a pair of season-ending shoulder injuries.

Schofield summarized his chances this way:

“Now, even with these NFL reads and throws on his resume, there are still going to be question marks. His decision-making could still stand to improve, as evidenced by the interceptions he threw last year including the one previously mentioned against Portland State. A pair of season-ending injuries is going to raise some questions as well. But behind Jones the Giants have Colt McCoy and Alex Tanney, and while Tanney has stuck around for a while in the organization Cookus might be a better fit for the offense than the more experienced player. No one is expecting Cookus to win the starting job, but his resume - and the throws like these - give him a shot at sticking on the roster. Which is all you can ask for from an undrafted free agent.”

Will the Giants keep two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster and a third on the practice squad? Will they keep three on the main roster? Will the Giants value what Tanney brings to the quarterback room, or will the Giants want a younger player who might have upside to become a No. 2? We don’t know.

It’s a decision that obviously won’t make or break the 2020 Giants. It will, though, be an interesting one to watch.