Dalvin Cook’s versatility in the run game and the passing game make him a weapon that NFL teams dream of on draft day.
The Sports Quotient’s annual Draft Preview series returns! Over the course of the weeks leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft, we will take a look at the top NFL prospects at each position. This week, we dive into the running back position. Today we look at Dalvin Cook from Florida State University.
Replacing Devonta Freeman as the feature running back at ACC powerhouse Florida State was no small task for Dalvin Cook, but he met the challenge head-on. As a freshman he had more than 1,000 rushing yards, added 200+ in the passing game, and had eight total touchdowns. His sophomore season was his breakout season: he ended the season just shy of 2,000 yards between the running and passing game, and 20 total touchdowns.
He matched his total of 20 touchdowns in his third and final year at FSU, but this time he eclipsed 2,000 total yards with a startling 1,765 rushing yards and an impressive 488 yards through the air.
Cook had some off-the-field issues — he was suspended by FSU after being charged with battery in an incident at a bar in July 2015, but was reinstated by the team after being found not guilty. Cook leaves FSU having broken Warrick Dunn’s single-season rushing record and career rushing record.
Cook has a seemingly endless list of positive qualities that make him one of, if not the best available running back in the draft. He is explosive and elusive, a deadly combination. He has excellent vision and breakaway speed, and is a threat to score on any given carry. At 5‘10” and 210 lbs., Cook has decent size for a running back of his speed and quality.
But the most impressive thing about Cook is his play-making ability — his ability to see the field and see the defense, and make mind-blowing cuts to avoid open field tackles. The highlights of two of his best performances this season, a regular-season loss to eventual National Champions Clemson and FSU’s Orange Bowl victory over Michigan, show all you need to see about Cook’s ability to create for himself at the line of scrimmage, in the second level, and in the open field.
The pass play on third and 10 when Cook makes an outrageous cut and fights for the first down is an excellent representation of what he can do in the open field — his contributions aren’t just touchdowns — and he fights for every yard on every play.
Both of these highlight videos also capture Cook’s ability in the passing game, which makes him a more complete three-down back than some of the other backs available in the draft this year.
Cook, for all of his toughness and willingness to fight for yards and take hits in the open field, is not very comfortable between the tackles. He is often criticized for being too quick to take the ball to the outside, which makes him less than ideal for an NFL team looking for a guy reliable in short-yardage situations.
His other big weakness is ball security, with 13 career fumbles, including two multi-fumble games this season. Cook will have to work on keeping the ball safe at the next level where the level of competition on defense increases.
If Cook is not the best running back available in this draft class, he’s pretty darn close to it. He has play-making ability that will definitely translate to the NFL in both the run game and the passing game, making him an ideal three-down back. With the NFL trending towards running backs that can contribute on the ground and through the air (most notably David Johnson), Cook’s skill set and raw physical talent should definitely translate to the NFL as long as he works on ball security, which can be coached.
Dalvin Cook’s versatile skill set makes him a very desirable target for teams in the first round. There are teams in the high end of the first round who may find Cook’s talents to be just what they need to give their offense a boost — the Jacksonville Jaguars, Carolina Panthers, New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles, and Indianapolis Colts all may pull the trigger on Cook in the first half of the first round. If he somehow makes it past those teams, Cook will not fall past the Baltimore Ravens, Washington Football Team, or Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but I don’t expect he will even be on the board for them.
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- Atlanta Falcons
- New Orleans Saints
- Carolina Panthers
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers