Dalvin Cook is the second biggest name in the amazingly talented 2017 running back class, only behind phenom Leonard Fournette, and there’s no shame in that. The 5’11, 202 lb, Junior out of Florida State has been talked about by most NFL draft experts as a first-round lock. Is this something you should buy into? Does Cook have too much talent and potential for 32 prospects to be picked before him? Let’s go into what makes Cook so special, and where he still has room for improvement.
Strengths: Cook has blazing speed, when he hits a hole, and gets to the edge, there is no catching him. He is the prime example of the proverbial running back who is a “big play waiting to happen”. His game-changing speed and borderline elite vision is an interesting and fairly unusual combination for a prospect to have for a couple of reasons. Often times a player of Cook’s athleticism has a tendency to get the ball, put his head down and run. Now, not that there aren’t times for that kind of running, but being patient, reading your blocks, and hitting the hole is definitely the style that will result in more consistent production game in game out. Just look at Adrian Peterson in his prime for an example, amazing athleticism with patient vision led to many good things, even if he had many runs of for negative yardage. Now Cook doesn’t have the same game-changing power that Peterson held, but he has some of the same qualities in his speed and vision that made Peterson special. One thing Cook has on Peterson is his third-down ability that was a career long for Adrian. Cook can block and receive the ball proficiently, combined with his other strengths, he should be a very dangerous three down back from day one.
Weaknesses: As mentioned above, Cook doesn’t have “Adrian Peterson-level power”. In fact, not only does he not have that kind of power but it is actually his biggest weakness. Cook too often is unable to break tackles or push piles to gain extra yards. The other part of Dalvin’s game that can hold him back at times is his run of the mill agility. This will not hold him back necessarily from breaking long runs, but agility is paramount to getting a lot of 5 to 7 yard runs, and it would be nice to see him improve there.
Summary: So is Dalvin Cook a first round lock? Absolutely. Cook is just about the whole package. He’s got athleticism that can him make a superstar, Pro-Bowl level vision, and third down skills to boot. Don’t be surprised to see Cook one day become a superstar back in the NFL. He is certainly someone to snag up as quickly as you can in dynasty leagues.
Pro Comparison: Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs / Chris Johnson, Arizona Cardinals