'Impressive' Jared Cook an upgrade to Raiders TE corps

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The popular thinking goes something like this: Lee Smith is the Oakland Raiders' blocking tight end and Clive Walford is the pass-catching tight end.

So what, after coming to Oakland on a $10.6 million, two-year free-agent contract, is eight-year veteran Jared Cook?

Pretty much whatever he wants, so long as he fits into the scheme of things on a high-powered unit, which was the No. 6-ranked total offense in the NFL last year and also added running back Marshawn Lynch.

"One huge reason why I wanted to come here after I visited, is because the way that they utilize the tight end and the way that they do read the offense," Cook said earlier this offseason. "It's been efficient for everybody in the tight end meeting rooms as well as every other position on how we run our complementary routes off of each other. So, I like it and I think it will be beneficial for us."

Cook has been a participant in the Raiders’ voluntary offseason program and the team’s three-day mandatory mini-camp begins Tuesday.

From 2011 through 2014, Cook averaged 49 catches for 647 yards and nearly four touchdowns. His production dipped last year in Green Bay -- 30 catches for 377 yards and one TD -- but his tiptoe 35-yard catch on the sideline helped the Packers upend the Dallas Cowboys in the playoffs.

Such playmaking ability, along with a veteran presence, is what the Raiders expect out of Cook.

"He's an impressive looking human being, isn't he? He's a big, long guy, runs really well, stretches the field vertically inside," Raiders offensive coordinator Todd Downing said of the 6-foot-5, 254-pound Cook.

"He's a matchup nightmare for linebackers and most safeties. He really brings a sense in the passing game of a mismatch that we can count on week in and week out. Beyond that, and kind of what I'm pleasantly surprised with, is he's a really good in line blocker as well. Jared's versatility is going to be something that we're able to feed on a little bit and use him in different packages, pair him with other tight ends or other receivers. We're excited to see the volume he can handle."

Aside from Cook, the Raiders have six tight ends on their offseason roster in Smith, Walford, Gabe Holmes, Cooper Helfet, Ryan O'Malley and Pharaoh Brown. Only three of those players, though, have caught a touchdown pass in an NFL game -- Walford (6), Smith (4) and Helfet (2).

Cook has 17 touchdown catches in a career that includes four years with the Tennessee Titans, three with the Rams and last season with the Packers.

"It's a lot more talent across the board ... a lot more talent in that room," Cook said of the Raiders' tight ends. "We got six guys that can go and line up and play right now, I think. It's competition every day and it's also kind of a love-hate type of thing. We all look out for each other but at the same time, we're all doing what we can to make the team."

Excelling as an in-line blocker will make it hard for Cook to come off the field.

"It's important but I don't really trip, you know?" he said. "All that outside noise is just that -- it's just noise. If somebody's saying that, they're evaluating the film or maybe even not evaluating the film, but they're going off their own basis and that doesn't really matter. I'm just here to play football and do what I can to help my team.

"As long as they're happy upstairs, I'm cool with it."