In a December game in Seattle against the Seahawks late in the 2015 season, then St. Louis Rams punter Johnny Hekker decided it would be a good idea to hit Seattle defensive end Cliff Avril from the backside after punting the ball downfield.
Hekker came to immediately regret his decision as he cowered to the turf when Avril and Michael Bennett came after him on a later punt in the game.
Then the ref actually comes to our sideline and is like ‘hey, we talked to him’ or whatever and I’m like ‘ok, I’ve still got something for him next time they call safe punt again. So I had to jump at you. And then Mike (Bennett) finds out about it on the sideline and he’s like ‘what? what happened? the punter did it?’ So Mike was really going out for blood.
Hekker, who grew up in the Seattle suburb of Bothell, said he immediately had friends and family asking him what he was thinking.
Players outside the Rams will also likely have their eye on Cooks’ deal. The new money averages $16 million a year, which ties former Ram and current Chief Sammy Watkins for the fourth-biggest per-year average among wideouts. That’s more than Julio Jones is making under his current deal and probably won’t lessen his desire to rework it with three years still to run. Odell Beckham is also in the market for a new deal as he enters the final year of his current contract.
Zach Allen, DE, Boston College: Overshadowed by star teammate Harold Landry the last couple years, the 6’3, 285-pounder was one of only two defensive linemen in the country with 100 tackles in the 2017 season, and he led the Eagles with six sacks in his first year as a starter.
Deandre Baker, DB, Georgia: Size is an issue, but he’s played a lot of football at a blueblood program, starting the last two years and emerging in 2017 as an All-SEC player. He led the Bulldogs in pass breakups and was second on the team in interceptions, one of which came in the national title game against Alabama.
Austin Bryant, DE, Clemson: You’re going to hear a lot about the Clemson defensive line in the weeks to come, and Bryant may have been a first-rounder if he’d come out last year. As it is, he returns after posting a consensus All-America season in 2017, one in which he had 8.5 sacks and 15.5 tackles for a loss.