Dalvin Cook Featured on Another List
Multiple media platforms use the late stages of the offseason to show their rankings, like positional rankings, overall rankings, best young players, and the list goes on and on. Sam Monson from PFF started to release a list of the 50 best players in the NFL. Positions 50 to 21 are already public. So far, the only Vikings player who is featured on the list is Dalvin Cook. He ranks 37th, which is above his colleague Nick Chubb but below Jonathan Taylor.
Monson used a combination of PFF grades and WAR, wins above replacement for his rankings. Cook’s PFF grade was just 65.8 in 2021 after receiving a career-high 89 in 2020. Therefore, he dropped in the rankings from 26 to 37. The running back still received praise from Monson:
Cook hasn’t had as good of blocking in front of him as some other elite running backs, but his ability to make something out of nothing shows up time and time again for the Vikings. He has averaged 3.0 yards after contact for his career while posting double-digit breakaway runs of 15 or more yards in each of the past three seasons.– Sam Monson
Unsurprisingly, the Vikings’ offensive line wasn’t very good last season. However, the unit is better at run blocking. Outside of Brian O’Neill, the right tackle, all other offensive linemen in 2021 were better run blockers than pass protectors. But they still couldn’t open holes for Cook regularly. That, combined with multiple injuries, led to a decline of play from the star runner.
After posting career highs in 2020 in terms of scrimmage yards with 1,918 yards and 17 touchdowns, Cook just had 1,383 and five touchdowns. He also missed four games. His durability remains a big issue. Even after his ACL tear in 2017, he missed 13 games in the last four seasons.
The Vikings can’t replace his explosiveness and playmaking ability from the backfield. Last season, he suffered a sprained ankle in Week 2 against Arizona. Subsequently, Cook missed the games in the following week and Week 5. Later in the year, the former Florida State standout suffered a dislocated shoulder and missed two more games. He still ranked fifth in the NFL in rushing yards and is second in the last three seasons in rushing yards and touchdowns, only trailing Derrick Henry.
Different Role in 2022
In 2022, Cook is expected to be featured more often in the Vikings’ passing game than in recent years. After a productive receiving season in 2019 with offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, his production saw a massive drop with offensive coordinators Gary Kubiak and Klint Kubiak. New head coach Kevin O’Connell is expected to implement a more pass-heavy offense. If he can get Cook the ball more often in space and not as much on runs inside, he can avoid tackles from multiple big defensive linemen, which should help his durability.
The Vikings need their three-time Pro Bowler to be in good shape. He needs to provide a good rushing attack to keep the offense balanced. An offense with either too much running or too much passing is not sustainable and effective. Cook, his backups Mattison, Nwangwu, and Chandler, in addition to fullback C.J. Ham, need to make that happen for a successful 2022 campaign.
Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt