Leading up to the NFL Draft April 27, Liz Loza and Brad Evans will use vision and patience to find holes and answer questions about this year’s most talked-about talents. Today’s “Three-Point Stance” focus: FSU RB Leonard Dalvin Cook.
Dalvin Cook’s name is scrawled all over the FSU record books, having rushed for nearly 4,500 yards and 46 TDs while in Tallahassee. How did he dominate the ACC? Which of his attributes stood out the most to you?
Liz – An explosive player who can zigzag through traffic, Cook’s movements are sharp and efficient. His feet never stop moving, dashing and darting around and between would-be tacklers. Excellent vision and patience help this dynamo to create plays, and to keep grinding after contact. Yahoo’s own Eric Edholm notes the Seminole’s big-play ability. A fit for nearly any scheme, Cook is one of the most complete backs in this year’s class.
Brad – Cook has created a divide in the draftnik community. Those who steadfastly follow the numbers downgraded him harshly after a rather uneventful Combine. No question, his agility tests didn’t exactly invigorate. But the tape …
The eye test validates Cook’s incredible potential. A sensational zone runner, he’s patient, decisive and explosive. He also possesses considerable shake ‘n bake and leg drive. He ranked No. 2 in elusive rating last year and tallied a 4.1 YAC from 2015-2016 with Florida St. In other words, he owns two qualities every fantasy owner wants in a running back – 1) Make guys miss, 2) Gain appreciable yards after contact.
Despite putting together hours of dazzling tape, Cook remains one of the more divisive talents in this year’s draft. What are some of his red flags and do think they’ll hinder him at the next level?
Liz – On the field, Cook’s biggest issue is ball security. Dude tallied 13 fumbles in college, which some scouts have hypothesized are the result of mental errors and/or a struggle to stay focused. Off the field, he’s had multiple legal run-ins – for everything from robbery to misdemeanor battery to animal neglect. Three shoulder surgeries and a nagging hamstring injury further mar the tyro’s resume.
Brad – As Liz discussed above, Cook’s off-the-field transgressions are problematic. Similar to Joe Mixon, his disturbing past could come back to haunt him. He’s one incident away from a lengthy suspension or being blackballed completely by teams.
His injury-laden past and buttery hands are additional negatives. Though he’s a relatively dependable pass catcher, he wasn’t an established receiver in college largely due to a limited route tree and occasional drops.
Playing GM for a moment, where would you most like to see Cook land? Were he to suit up in the locale of your choosing, what kind of production could fantasy owners expect?
Liz – The Browns could certainly nab Cook with their second selection (No. 12) in the first round. Hue Jackson is a beloved coach who’s motivated players with checkered pasts, most recently Isaiah Crowell. But the QB chatter surrounding that pick it too loud for my me to buy in.
I think Philly might try to make an Eagle out of the ‘Nole. After an underwhelming 2016, it’s unlikely that Ryan Mathews returns to the team, leaving a gaping hole in the Eagles’ backfield. A versatile weapon like Cook could step right in, commandeering the bulk of the touches while also receiving a ton of targets in Frank Reich’s pass-friendly offense.
Assuming he stays healthy and out of trouble (big assumption, I know) Cooks has the chance to touch the ball upwards of 260 total times for just over 1,200 combined yards.
Brad – Cook was absurdly productive during his three-year stint with the Seminoles. He amassed 5,399 combined yards, averaged 7.1 yards per touch and totaled 48 touchdowns. Much of that production came behind a marginal run-blocking line last year and was logged against formidable competition. Despite nitpickers’ concerns, his assertive running style, plus speed (4.49 40-yard dash) and abrupt change-of-direction abilities should transition favorably at the next level.
Ultimately, the negative press could play to Cook’s benefit. Some pundits forecast him as a late first-rounder, possibly landing in attractive locales like Kanas City, Green Bay or New York (Giants). If he can stay out of legal hot water, protect the football and remain upright, he has top-15 upside this fall functioning as a three-down back. On talent alone, he’s my third-favorite RB – behind Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey – in this year’s class.