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Adrian Peterson, Dalvin Cook Early Career Production Eerily Similar

Disclaimer: In no way, shape, or form do the following words profess that Dalvin Cook is a “better” football player than Adrian Peterson. 

The Minnesota Vikings enjoyed about eight years of bliss at the running back position after the franchise drafted Adrian Peterson in 2007. At the time, Minnesota was quarterback-needy but elected to select a halfback out of the draft — even though a proficient one in Chester Taylor lived on the depth chart.

The choice was tremendous.

Between the years of 2007 and 2013 — the golden age of Peterson with the Vikings — the Oklahoma alumnus led the NFL in rushing yards. And the next closest yards suitor, Chris Johnson, was 2,150 rushing yards behind Peterson. The Vikings tailback also tallied 86 rushing touchdowns in those seven seasons, leading the second-place finisher, Michael Turner, by 25 touchdowns.

Peterson left the Vikings following the 2016 season, spending time thereafter with the New Orleans Saints, Arizona Cardinals, Washington Football Team, and Detroit Lions.

He is currently a free agent.

His successor, Dalvin Cook, was drafted in 2017, serving as a replacement for Peterson as the future Hall of Famer exited the team after the 2016 season.

Cook, too, has been tremendous.

Peterson and Cook deploy vastly different styles as running backs, but each is [was] rather effective as an RB1. Peterson was a blunt-force, bruising, run-the-ball halfback whereas Cook is a dynamic-yet-strong slasher-style runner than can also run folks over. Oh, and he catches the football and blocks defenders — two items Peterson tended to avoid.

Here is where the spookiness sets in — thru both man’s first 42 career starts. “42 career starts” is used because that’s the number of games that Cook has started to date.

There you have it. In 42 career starts, Peterson — with 17 more touches of the football — outpaces Cook by a measly 25 total yards. The touchdown totals are static.

Peterson is universally revered by Vikings fans for on-the-field performance, so a statistic like this is flabbergasting. It just feels like Peterson caused more havoc early in his reign. To the eye test, he did. But the numbers tell a story of similarity.

Two caveats: The first pertains to Cook’s injury reputation. The Florida State product has missed one-third of all Vikings games since joining the team in 2017. Peterson missed only three games to injury during his first four seasons. So, Peterson “wins” the durability race — by a mile — for the commencement of their respective careers.

But — Peterson fumbled more. He dropped the pigskin 18 times in 42 starts while Cook has put the ball on the ground just 11 times in the same metric.

Dustin Baker

Writer. Host of Bleav in Vikings Podcast w/B-Mac & Baker.

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