3 takeaways from the Brandin Cooks blockbuster
Adam Glanzman / Getty Images Sport / Getty

The Los Angeles Rams continued to wheel and deal Tuesday, landing star wide receiver Brandin Cooks from New England Patriots in a blockbuster trade that sent their first-round pick to the reigning AFC champions.

There's plenty to digest from the deal, so we've broken it down into three clear takeaways.

Rams are the team to beat in the NFC

Sorry, Philadelphia Eagles fans, but it's hard not to anoint the Rams the preseason favorites in the NFC after an offseason for the ages. It began with the acquisition of star cornerback Marcus Peters from the Kansas City Chiefs almost six weeks ago, and the Rams haven't stopped adding talent to a roster that already featured plenty of it.

Rams' blockbuster additions this offseason

Player Position
Brandin Cooks WR
Ndamukong Suh DT
Aqib Talib CB
Marcus Peters CB
Sam Shields CB

It remains to be seen whether the new-look Rams will jell - and how quickly they can do it - but on paper, no team in the conference has more talent than the defending NFC West titlists.

Rams want Cooks to be what Sammy Watkins wasn't

A year ago, the Rams coughed up a second-round pick to get Sammy Watkins from the Buffalo Bills - only to watch Watkins' production plummet and then let him walk as a free agent. Determined to find a more effective receiver to stretch the field for quarterback Jared Goff, Los Angeles has now traded a first-rounder for a similar player in Cooks.

(Photo courtesy: Getty Images)

Cooks, like Watkins when he was acquired, is one year away from free agency. Unlike Watkins, Cooks has proven to be extremely durable, playing in all 16 games over each of the last three campaigns. Cooks and Pittsburgh Steelers star Antonio Brown are the only receivers in the NFL to post at least 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns in 2015, 2016, and 2017. If he does it for a fourth straight year, that'll be a significant upgrade over the 593 yards and eight touchdowns Watkins registered last season.

Patriots will be the most intriguing team at the draft

It's no secret the Patriots need an heir apparent for 40-year-old quarterback Tom Brady, and now they should be able to trade up for one at the draft with four selections in the top 63 at their disposal. Of course, New England could also trade down on draft day - as it's better known for doing - and stockpile additional picks to build roster depth while riding it out with Brady for as long as he wants to play.

It's also conceivable that Pats won't trade any of their picks in the opening two rounds, and will instead select players at Nos. 23, 31, 43, and 63. The Patriots have twice drafted multiple players in the first round during the Bill Belichick era; they came away with defensive tackle Vince Wilfork and tight end Ben Watson in 2004, and edge-rusher Chandler Jones plus linebacker Dont'a Hightower in 2012.

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3 takeaways from the Brandin Cooks blockbuster
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