Ever since week 2 of the 2006 NFL season when the Bengals lost franchise center Rich Braham to a knee injury that would essentially end his outstanding 13-year NFL career that saw him take snaps from the likes of Boomer Esiason, all the way to the recently departed Carson Palmer, the Bengals had to wait nearly three years before they found an adequate replacement in the form of Kyle Cook. Cook took over the starting center spot full-time in 2009 after three years on the incumbent Eric Ghiaciuc, and filled in admirably.
After back-to-back solid season to start out his career in which he graded out at +2.7 in 2009 and +5.7 in 2010, he looked to be the long-term solution at center the Bengals had been searching for since Pro Bowler Rich Braham retired. He was rewarded handsomely with a 4-year deal worth $14 million with $5 million guaranteed. All of this and he was only entering his fourth NFL season. He did all of this in spite of going undrafted out of Michigan State.
Cook has allowed only six sacks in his three years as a starting center for the Bengals while being a solid run-blocker in a division that featured Casey Hampton, Shawn Rodgers(when he was still relevent), and All-Pro NT Haloti Ngata. Cook also excels at second-level blocking against opposing teams’ linebackers, and when you play in a division with Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Laurence Timmons, and D’Qwell Jackson, that’s a critical skills to have. While Cook has become one of the better centers in the AFC and may be on the verge of reaching Pro-Bowl status, if you dive deeper into his performance, like the guys at Pro Football Focus have, you may not like the more in-depth results you find about Cook.