The stats tell part of his story, but those that watched him closely in high school and college have their opinions about the Vikings got in him, where his strengths lie and what issues might need fixing.
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Cook was our No. 4 running back coming out of high school in 2014, in what many consider the best running back class in recent history.
And Cook had one of the better collegiate careers of any back in that class, being a feature back for Florida State and rushing for over 1,000 yards each of his three seasons.
It showed what kind of an impact, early and often, Cook could make.
He’s an explosive back with good top-end speed, doing a great job getting away from defenders. He can run with power and became more of a between-the-tackles runner by his junior season. Cook is 5-10, 210-pounds, but doesn’t sacrifice his burst with his strength.
Cook is an effective pass-catcher out of the backfield and really improved as a receiver by the end of his time in Tallahassee.
The big concern on the field with Cook is the amount of carries he had at Florida State, with less tread on the tires for the NFL. He also had issues holding on to the ball in college – an issue he’ll have to clean up in the pros.
There are also the off-the-field concerns, though all reports are that he’s grown up and matured since his last run-in. A change of scenery from Florida will probably do him wonders.
Overall, Cook was my favorite back in this class in college (he was my No. 2 back as a prep behind Leonard Fournette), and his production at Florida State, despite the amount of carries, and playing at a high level for the Noles should allow him to make a smooth transition to the NFL.
FORMER DIRECTOR OF SCOUTING, SCOUT.COM
Watching Dalvin Cook at Florida State last year, it was impossible not to make the easy comparison to what Ezekiel Elliot was doing with the Dallas Cowboys. Similarities abound in size, quickness, pass receiving and power. Despite the sub-par 40 time he ran this spring, Cook can make one man miss and be gone. He runs with terrific instincts. He was a steal in the second round.
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Whether early in his high school career at Miami (Fla.) Central High School or in his final game as a Florida State Seminole in the Orange Bowl, the strengths within Dalvin Cook’s game show up early and often.
It starts with his burst.
Cook gains ground in a hurry with unmatched explosion coming out of his stance, getting on top of defenders sooner than expected, something that contributes to many of the missed tackles at or behind the line of scrimmage.
On top of the 0-to-60 ability, Cook can maintain that top speed and run away from defenders, as he so often did en route to FSU’s all-time rushing record. The home run ability comes together with his efficiency in the open field, making moves north and south as opposed to laterally.
Since making the transition to college, Cook has improved his build and, in turn, his ability to run in between the tackles. He plays with a low center of gravity and doesn’t shy away from contact, finishing forward more times than not. He has above-average vision and cut-back ability, allowing short gains to become much more.
In the passing game, Cook has flashed the same big plays he has as a runner, though he isn’t necessarily a natural pass catcher. He has some breaks in his concentration and hasn’t shown much ability to compete for the football at its highest point, something that limits the routes he can run effectively. On the other hand, Cook is a stout pass blocker who uses the same explosion and physical nature to protect the passer more than adequately.
In college, Cook was the workhorse back for Jimbo Fisher and company, something that helped him pile up the yardage and chunk plays alike. But it also seemingly wore on him, causing him to miss periods of games throughout the last two seasons in Tallahassee. Cook showed the ability to play at less than 100 percent and despite him being the focal point of most defenses he faced, he still managed to make a considerable impact.
With his frame, power, speed and toughness, there isn’t a reason to believe Cook cannot be a three-down running back at the NFL level.