The team at Vikings Territory has been busy working to get to know each of our newest Vikings draft selections and this week we will give you a chance to learn everything we know about these players through our reintroduction of the “Welcome to the Big Show” series.
Next Up: RB Dalvin Cook
Dalvin Cook’s on-field successes are starkly juxtaposed by the off-the-gridiron questions he can’t seem to shake. Growing up in Miami-Dade, Florida, Cook endured what could only be considered a difficult childhood.
In 2007, at just 13 years old, Cook left home and moved in with his grandmother, Betty Cook. She embraced her grandson, giving Dalvin a steady presence in the face of Miami-Dade’s volatile surroundings. Two years into his life with “Miss Betty,” Cook found trouble away from her watchful eye, building a rap sheet so long it scared some NFL teams away.
But the now-21-year-old running back worked to turn his life around, becoming one of the most prolific football players in Miami Central High School history. His senior year, Cook set school records by rushing for 1,940 yards and 24 touchdowns on 177 carries (11 yards per carry). Those numbers made Cook a five-star recruit, a top prospect, and a highly-regarded back among some of the nation’s best collegiate programs.
He eventually selected Florida State over other top-flight schools, including Florida, Texas, Arkansas, and Miami. From the time he enrolled in January 2014 to the time he left in 2016, Cook compiled one of, if not the greatest careers in Seminole history.
College Attended: Florida State University
Collegiate Seasons: 3
Games Played: 38
Rush Attempts: 687
Rushing Yards: 4,464
Rushing touchdowns: 46
Receiving Yards: 935
Receiving Touchdowns: 2
Weight: 210 pounds
Arm Length: 32 3/8″
Hand Size: 9 1/4″
40-Yard Dash: 4.49 seconds
Bench Press: 22 reps
Vertical Jump: 30 1/2″
Broad Jump: 116″
3-Cone Drill: 7.27 seconds
20-Yard Shuttle: 4.53 seconds
- Cook is a “creator;” he can turn broken plays into positive gains
- A “Home run hitter” with the ability to turn the corner and sprint away from defenses
- Versatile scheme runner who looks comfortable behind zone and power blocking
- Exceptional footwork and lateral agility to find creases at the line of scrimmage
- Shiftiness and power to break through arm tackles in one-on-one situations
- Balance and body control to bounce off tackles and keep himself upright between the tackles
- Above-average ball skills; a natural pass-catcher out of the backfield
- Cook’s a “gamer” who plays his best when the lights are brightest, i.e., in primetime
- Like his predecessor, Cook must improve ball security. Fumbled 14 times on 763 career touches
- A smaller power back who won’t be able to drive through defenders as he did at FSU
- Suspect durability; underwent three shoulder surgeries throughout his college career
- A capable, if inexperienced blocker in pass protection who will need to fix his technique
- Off-the-field and character concerns, which the Vikings seem to have vetted, remain question marks
TALE OF THE TAPE
Cook was never supposed to fall to Minnesota, but he did, and the Vikings are a better team for it. Even with the addition of Latavius Murray this offseason, Cook gives the Vikings a dynamic threat out of the backfield; a player who can hurt you between the tackles, on the edge, and as a receiver in space.
Outside of Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey, Minnesota couldn’t have landed a better running back, especially for the things Pat Shurmur wants to do with the offense. Cook is an adept zone runner and an even better back behind man-blocking, which is exactly how the offensive line operates under Tony Sparano.
Arguably a first-round talent, Cook could end up being the steal of the entire 2017 NFL Draft.
Lance Zierlein – NFL.com: “Very talented runner with outstanding balance, footwork, and burst. Cook lacks the power that you may find with some running backs in this year’s draft, but he is a homerun hitter with a resume featuring monster games against his most highly regarded opponents. Cook creates for himself with elusiveness and speed, but his value could be diminished by injuries, character, and issues in pass protection. If everything checks out, he could become a rookie of the year candidate right away.”
Dane Brugler – CBS Sports: “When evaluating the running back position, there are two main criteria that translate to the NFL: can you navigate and can you create? And Cook is above average in both areas. He has excellent patience to allow his blockers to do their job and then times his burst to maximize each run. If defenses give him a crease, he has the vision to find openings and athletic gifts to explode through them, making it look easy due to his feet, balance and spatial awareness. Cook is a dynamic rusher and receiver, but his inconsistency in pass protection and ball security need improvement and NFL doctors will need to sign off on his shoulders before a team uses a high pick on him.”
Mel Kiper Jr. – ESPN Insider: “Cook (5-10, 210) is a home run hitter who can turn small creases into massive gains. He finished the 2016 season with 100-yard rushing performances in nine of his last 10 games, including 145 rushing yards and 62 receiving yards in the Orange Bowl win over Michigan. He averaged 6.1 yards per carry — after averaging 7.4 in 2015 — and had 33 receptions for 488 yards. With good hands and the ability to find and pick up blitzes, he’s versatile. He had a whopping 40 total touchdowns in the past two seasons.”
PFF Analysis Team – Pro Football Focus: “Cook’s big-play ability makes him a special player. When given a hole, he can take it to the house, and even when his blocking isn’t good, he has the ability to maximize what is there. Cook’s fumbling problems, like his hamstring, flares up too frequently, so there are some concerns. Despite those issues, Cook’s name will still be called early because of his prodigious potential.”
SELECTION & REACTION
#33 for @dalvincook!
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) April 29, 2017
Rick Spielman – Vikings: “OK, we’re very excited to get the quality of running back we were able to get. We started making some calls once we knew he was going to slide into the second day, and as we looked and he kept coming down the board, we felt that he was just too talented of a player not to take a swing and try to go up and get him and feel that we have great value for where we were able to land Dalvin (Cook) in the second round.”
The initial expert analysis of the selection was overwhelmingly positive:
Chris Burke – Sports Illustrated: “Both Cook and Joe Mixon were still sitting on the board at 41, so the Vikings made a move up to address their RB situation (48 and 128 to Cincinnati). Cook isn’t a “clean” prospect, necessarily, but he was our top-ranked back. He’s a dynamic playmaker that will bolster that offense.”
Pete Prisco – CBS Sports: ““From a talent standpoint, it’s a steal. He has star ability, but there are concerns off the field.”
Mel Kiper Jr. – ESPN Insider: “Dalvin Cook dropped a little throughout the pre-draft process, but he’s a home run threat and will help out in the passing game, too. He had 40 total touchdowns over the past two seasons. Those are big shoes to fill to replace future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson, and the Vikings now have the trio of Cook, Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon fill that hole.”
VT Readers – Poll: An overwhelming majority (76%) of Vikings Territory readers gave the Cook pick an “A” grade. They likely awarded the Vikings such high marks for the value—nabbing a first-round talent in the second round—and the quality of player the Vikings got in Cook.
THE VIKINGS FIT
If his off-the-field issues are in the past, Cook has a chance to become Minnesota’s next great running back. Sure, he could stand to improve as a pass blocker, but Cook has all of the gifts, innate abilities, and proven production to make an immediate impact for the Vikings. He’ll likely start the season in a committee with the bigger, more durable back in Murray, but that shouldn’t diminish the value he immediately adds to an ailing offense.
WELCOME TO THE BIG SHOW
DT Jaleel Johnson, Iowa
LB Ben Gedeon, Michigan
WR Stacy Coley, Miami