How Does Dalvin Cook Fit With the Vikings?
It was widely expected that Dalvin Cook may fall out of the first round, but it didn't take long for his name to be called in Round 2.
In the end, it was the Minnesota Vikings who traded up from 48 to 41 to stop Cook's slide. The Vikings' backfield has been given a makeover this offseason, and with Adrian Peterson now in New Orleans, Cook, a player with superb college production on his résumé, could be the long-term answer in Minnesota.
Why He Fell
Despite a prolific career at Florida State -- he is the Seminoles all-time leading rusher -- Cook had a poor performance at the combine, and there were a number of off-the-field and injury concerns surrounding him.
Cook's SPARQ score, which is a measurement of overall athleticism based upon combine numbers, placed him in the ninth percentile among NFL running backs -- not good.
According to our combine tool, which uses player metrics and combine data to compare players across draft classes, Cook most closely compares to Adam Muema and Cyrus Gray. Muema went undrafted in 2014 while Gray was taken in the sixth round in 2012.
|Cyrus Gray||2012||Round 6, Pick 12||95.95%|
|Onterrio Smith||2003||Round 4, Pick 8||94.48%|
Although the pre-draft process was rough for Cook, he was wildly productive during his time at Florida State. Over the last two seasons, Cook started in all 25 games for the 'Noles, setting the the school rushing record in his sophomore season -- finishing with 229 carries, 1,691 yards and 7.4 yards per carry. Then, in his junior year, Cook broke his own record, going for 1,765 yards on 288 carries (6.1 yard per carry).
Opting to skip his senior season and enter the draft, Cook owns the two best individual rushing seasons in Florida State history.
Cook was an explosive runner with 10 career carries that went for more than 50 yards and 11 games with at least 150 rushing yards, but teams may be concerned with Cook's ball security -- he fumbled 12 times in his career at Florida State, including six last season.
Additionally, there has been extensive reporting about off-the-field issues that haunt Cook. Those issues coupled with his poor combine performance pushed him out of the first round.
How Cook Fits With Minnesota
Drafting Cook is a continuation of Minnesota's offseason efforts to revamp its running game after the unit struggled mightily in 2016. The Vikings have signed tackles Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers in addition to inking Murray and drafting center Pat Elflein.
Last season, Minnesota's run game was sabotaged by a nightmare situation on the offensive line, and the team ranked dead last, according to our schedule-adjusted metrics, in rushing. Led by McKinnon and Matt Asiata, the Vikings averaged a paltry 75.3 rushing yards per game.
Per numberFire's Net Expected Points (NEP) metric, of the 42 running backs with at least 100 carries last season, McKinnon ranked 38th (-21.45) in Rushing NEP. It was quite the opposite of 2015, when McKinnon ranked third in Rushing NEP per play among backs with at least 50 attempts.
Beefing up the offensive line should help, and so should the signing of Murray, who ranked 11th in rushing NEP (0.04). But Murray did that while running behind one of the league's best lines in Oakland, and he hasn't always been a stud as he ranked 42nd in Rushing NEP per play in 2015 among the 44 backs with at least 100 carries.
Cook slipped due to concerns with his athletic ability stemming from his combine numbers, and he also had some off-the-field issues. But if he needed a change of scenery to escape those off-the-field problems, Minnesota represents a great opportunity to do that, and he should be a key piece in the Vikings' makeover of their rushing attack.