Cook was projected as a top-40 pick by NFLDraftScout.com but questions about his leadership and the ability to lead receivers with his passes against pro defenses and stand in the pocket against pressure were called out by some scouts.
The Raiders moved up in a trade with the Cleveland Browns to draft Cook with the second pick of the fourth round on Saturday. Cook will compete to be the backup to Derek Carr in Oakland with Matt McGloin. The Raiders assigned McGloin a second-round tender as a free agent and plan to retain all three quarterbacks, at least through training camp.
Others doubt Cook's ability to lead, in part because he was not selected a team captain despite returning for his senior season.
"It's an understandable question: Why wasn't he captain? I'll just be completely honest with them," Cook said of being asked by teams doubting his leadership. "We had a lot of leaders on that team, we had 22 seniors, I believe, we had the leadership council, like I said. If you want to go back and talk to any of my teammates and ask them if I was a great leader, they would say yes."
Cook has the physical credentials to start in the NFL. But he raised some red flags by passing on an invitation to the Senior Bowl, a decision he credits entirely to a shoulder injury.
Cook had a conspicuous, awkward moment with Archie Griffin while accepting the MVP Award after MSU's Big Ten title game. That was met with harsh public backlash on social media and is well noted by scouts, especially given that some already questioned his leadership.
For those reasons, Cook was drafted behind North Carolina State's Jacoby Brissett (91) and USC's Cody Kessler (93) and the seventh quarterback picked in the 2016 draft.
The Raiders, under general manager Reggie McKenzie's personnel control, are following a tried-and-true strategy employed by Hall of Fame general manager Ron Wolf, who said winning teams should draft a quarterback "about every other year."
Cook's pro comparisons could include Kirk Cousins, the Spartans quarterback drafted in the fourth round of the 2012 draft -- three rounds after Washington took Robert Griffin III at No. 2 overall. Cousins is now a $20 million starter in Washington after unseating Griffin and guiding the Redskins to the NFC East division title.
Cook took over as the starter in 2013 and finished his career completing 673 of 1,170 passes for 9,194 yards, 71 touchdowns and 22 interceptions. He was unable to play in MSU's upset victory over Ohio State, the Spartans' most impressive win last year.