Jared Cook sure did a nice job of getting downfield for chunk plays last year. He caught 9 TDs, and over half of them came from outside the red zone. He ended up averaging 16.4 yards per catch, which is a figure that even Rob Gronkowski never reached in his career.

Only 24 tight ends, in fact, have averaged even 14 yards per catch in the last 20 years. (At least among those with at least 40 catches).

In the case of the Saints, they pepper defenses with short balls to Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas. They’re sliding the chess pieces around, and when they get the right look, they go for the knockout punch to Cook.

Cook isn’t a huge part of that offense; he averaged only 3 catches per game last year. But he comes through with some impactful, downfield catches. I expect he’ll outperform the free agent wide receiver they just picked up, Emmanuel Sanders.

If you want to find a tight end averaging even more yards than Cook you have to go back to 1997, with Rickey Dudley of the Raiders. He also averaged 16.4, but if you look at the numbers more closely, his 16.4 is slightly larger (by less than two hundredths of an inch).

Cook really came on in the second half of last season, after coming back from a sprained ankle. He caught 29 passes for 537 yards and 7 TDs in his final eight games, with a 61-yard touchdown at Tennessee and 26- and 38-yard touchdowns early in that shootout against the 49ers. Cook averaged 19.2 yards per catch in the second half of the season.

2019Jared Cook, N.O.4370516.409
2013Vernon Davis, S.F.5285016.3513
2015Rob Gronkowski, N.E.72117616.3311
2010Vernon Davis, S.F.5691416.327
2004Alge Crumpler, Atl.4877416.136
2008Tony Scheffler, Den.4064516.133
2001Marcus Pollard, Ind.4773915.728
2017Rob Gronkowski, N.E.69108415.718
2018George Kittle, S.F.88137715.655
2010Antonio Gates, S.D.5078215.6410
2011Jared Cook, Ten.4975915.493
2014Coby Fleener, Ind.5177415.188
2017Vernon Davis, Was.4364815.073
2010Todd Heap, Balt.4059914.985
2011Rob Gronkowski, N.E.90132714.7417
2009Antonio Gates, S.D.79115714.658
2018Rob Gronkowski, N.E.4768214.513
2012Rob Gronkowski, N.E.5579014.3611
2015Greg Olsen, Car.77110414.347
2016Jimmy Graham, Sea.6592314.206
2008Visanthe Shiancoe, Min.4259614.197
2013Jimmy Graham, N.O.86121514.1316
2014Delanie Walker, Ten.6389014.134
2019Noah Fant, Den.4056214.053

—Ian Allan