RB – Florida State
Weight: 210 pounds
Hand size: 9 1/4″
40-yard dash: 4.49
The Vikings have been utilizing one-dimensional running backs for a long, long time. Adrian Peterson was a two-down back who struggled to find success in passing situations. Jerick McKinnon thrives in passing situations, but concerns remain about his ability to run tough between the tackles.
Newly-acquired back Latavius Murray brings some versatility as a taller back who can catch the ball and protect the passer, but he doesn’t possess the quickness of McKinnon.
Dalvin Cook combines the best of Murray and McKinnon into one player.
He’s an exceptional athlete on film, showing fluid quickness and change of pace ability with the ball combined with blazing straight-line speed and acceleration (as evidenced by his sub-4.5 40-yard dash).
Cook boasts maybe the best vision in this class of running backs, which says quite a bit when stacked up against the likes of Leonard Fournette, Christian McCaffrey and Joe Mixon. The former Florida State Seminole uses his vision and acceleration together well, setting up his blocks well and exploding through the opening created by his linemen.
The main weakness in Cook’s game is his tendency to go East-West instead of North-South, which he was able to get away with often at the college level. He’ll have to reign that in as he adjusts to the greater speed at the NFL level.
Of course, the purple and gold faithful is also wary of fumble prone backs. Cook isn’t necessarily “fumble prone”, but his 13 career fumbles suggest he could certainly improve in that area.
Cook is a generational talent that could realistically be a good fit in any offense in the NFL. But he’s nearly a perfect fit for Pat Shurmur in Minnesota. He’s a very natural receiver out of the backfield and excels on screen passes, using that vision and patience.
As a pass protector, Cook could improve his technique quite a bit but the want-to attitude is definitely there. Shurmur’s quick passing tendencies should act as a cover up for Cook’s technique issues while they improve.
He thrived in all kinds of blocking schemes executed by Florida State, whether it was a gap, man or zone scheme. Shurmur and Tony Sparano like to use a little bit of both man and zone schemes which should allow Cook to fit right in.
Cook’s role will likely begin as a change-of-pace option for Murray in the 2017 season. But let’s remember — both McKinnon and Murray are essentially in contract years. The future at the running back position appears to include Cook as the primary guy with either Murray or McKinnon as a complementary option.
Minnesota will add an elite talent at the running back position. Mike Zimmer and Rick Spielman have repeatedly announced their desire to get the Vikings rushing attack back on track. They also showed it by adding Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers in free agency to solidify the book ends as run maulers.
Trading up a few picks in the NFL Draft means you either have a guy that’s an excellent fit, or you have a guy that is crazy talented and has slipped through the cracks. Spielman got both with this move, and Minnesota’s offense just became a whole lot more dynamic.
Please let us know your take on the Vikings’ first pick of the 2017 NFL Draft. Grade the pick here.