NFL draft profile: No. 20 — Florida State RB Dalvin Cook, thrilling tape but character, injury worries

Florida State RB Dalvin Cook
5-foot-10, 210 pounds

Key stat: Cook is FSU’s all-time leading rusher with 4,464 yards and holds the school record for rushing TDs (46). He’s the first ACC player to surpass the 4,000-yard rush mark in only three seasons.

[Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Baseball: It’s not too late to get in the game]

Florida State’s Dalvin Cook could be a great NFL back but also comes with a serious buyer beware tag. (AP)
Florida State’s Dalvin Cook could be a great NFL back but also comes with a serious buyer beware tag. (AP)

The skinny: Elite prep recruit overcame two incidents early in his high school days — arrested and charged with robbery as a juvenile in 2009, and also arrested and charged with firing a weapon and possessing a weapon at an event on school property in 2010 — both of which were dropped by the prosecutors.

He signed with the Seminoles but then got in trouble again before repmockorting to the team, with two separate incidents. First, he was charged with criminal mischief in October 2014 for his participation in a BB gun fight from June 2014 in which several vehicles were damaged. Then in July 2014, Cook was cited by the City of Tallahassee Animal Services for mistreatment of three pit bull puppies, chaining them together by the neck.

Cook sat out the season opener as a true freshman that year but turned in the best year by a freshman runner in school history. The following summer, Cook was found not guilty of of misdemeanor battery after being accused of punching a 21-year-old woman outside of a Tallahassee bar in June 2015. He turned himself into police and initially lied about his involvement in the incident, but he and other witnesses say Cook tried to play peacekeeper in the situation. With no clear video of the incident and only testimony from one intoxicated witness, the jury took less than 30 minutes to return its verdict.

In 2015 and 2016, Cook scored 40 touchdowns and totaled 4,188 yards from scrimmage, breaking the single-season total-yard mark each year. The 2016 team captain declared early for the 2017 NFL draft and turns 22 in August.

Best-suited destination: Cook probably has a home in almost any style running game, but we picture him best in a inside/outside zone scheme. That would make him a nice fit with the Washington Redskins, Green Bay Packers, Cincinnati Bengals, Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Rams, Baltimore Ravens, Philadelphia Eagles, Denver Broncos and Chicago Bears, among other teams. However, any team that considers drafting Cook will have to sign off on his character first.

Upside: Excellent burst and balance. Possesses big-play ability with good footwork, sharp cuts and nice vision — especially back against the grain. Runs through contact well and keeps grinding for extra yards. Can blast through arm tackles and even flash a stiff arm out wide. Gashed Florida and Clemson two years in a row. Here’s Cook making a decisive cut and working through traffic for a big gain against a very good Gators defense in 2016:

Florida State RB Dalvin Cook, chewing up the yards against Florida in 2016. (Draftbreakdown.com, via YouTube)
Florida State RB Dalvin Cook, chewing up the yards against Florida in 2016. (Draftbreakdown.com, via YouTube)

Very good in short yardage and can smell the end zone the closer he gets. Bench-pressed 22 reps at the combine. Strong, compact build. Tough — played through a torn rotator cuff in high school and hamstring and ankle injuries with the Noles in 2015. Shows his patience letting blocks develop. Doesn’t dilly-dally too much as a runner but will keep his feet in motion and is harder to bring down. Doesn’t have raw speed but can gear up when needed and plays fast. Was effective as a runner in Jimbo Fisher’s pro-style offense that featured a mix of zone, man and gap blocking. Cook was not asked to pass block often, but he has shown he can step up in the face of big rushers occasionally. Strong receiving ability and good route runner — effective on wheel routes and can track the ball well.

Downside: Character red-flagged by multiple teams with checkered past, and team interviews have been a mixed bag when Cook has been asked about them. Tested extremely poorly at the NFL scouting combine in some events — Cook numbers in the vertical jump (30.5 inches), 3-cone drill (7.27 seconds) and 20-yard shuttle (4.53) placed him in the bottom 10th percentile among all combine running backs dating back to 1999, per Mockdraftable. Doesn’t have blazing speed to outrun defenders to the corner.

Scouts have noticed that Cook has a bad habit of dipping his head in traffic or on contact, which limits his field of vision, and is the kind of thing that isn’t easily coached out of a player historically. He’s not a quick-burst lateral runner who can shake defenders, which is clear in games and backed up by his poor testing times. Has a bad history of fumbles (13 career, or one every 59 touches) that included two in the CFB playoff loss to Oregon as a freshman. Still unpolished as a receiver and will drop some catchable passes. Pass-protection and special-teams assignments were minimal. Has health concerns, including his right shoulder (labrum) that has been operated on twice — once after before his freshman year and again before the 2016 season.

Scouting hot take: “We’re not going to draft the Oklahoma kid [Joe Mixon] I don’t think, but I’ll tell you right now I have as many [character] concerns about Cook as I do [Mixon]. You better get real comfortable real quick with all that. We have talked to family, teachers, teammates, the whole nine yards, and I’m just saying you have to do your work on him.” — NFC college scouting director

Player comp: Mark Ingram.

Expected draft range: First-round pick, although it’s possible (though unlikely) that his poor combine performance and character concerns push him just outside of Round 1

Previous profiles

Nos. 51-100: Here’s who just missed the cut
No. 50: Indiana OG-C Dan Feeney
No. 49: Iowa DB Desmond King
No. 48: Vanderbilt LB Zach Cunningham
No. 47: Wisconsin pass rusher T.J. Watt
No. 46. Alabama pass rusher Tim Williams
No. 45. Washington CB Sidney Jones
No. 44. Alabama LB Ryan Anderson
No. 43. Ohio State WR-RB Curtis Samuel
No. 42. Florida DT Caleb Brantley
No. 41. Connecticut DB Obi Melifonwu
No. 40. USC CB-KR Adoree’ Jackson
No. 39. Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes
No. 38. Michigan State DL Malik McDowell
No. 37: Ole Miss TE Evan Engram
No. 36: Florida LB Jarrad Davis
No. 35: Washington S Budda Baker
No. 34: Oklahoma RB Joe Mixon
No. 33: Alabama CB Marlon Humphrey
No. 32: Florida CB Quincy Wilson
No. 31: Tennessee RB Alvin Kamara
No. 30: Michigan DB-RS Jabrill Peppers
No. 29: Alabama OT Cam Robinson
No. 28: Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer
No. 27: LSU CB Tre’Davious White
No. 26: Missouri DE Charles Harris
No. 25: UCLA pass rusher Takkarist McKinley
No. 24: Michigan DE Taco Charlton
No. 23: Wisconsin OT Ryan Ramczyk
No. 22: Utah OT Garett Bolles
No. 21: Western Kentucky OG-C Forrest Lamp

– – – – – – –

Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!

What to Read Next