3 best team fits for running back prospect Dalvin Cook
Running back Dalvin Cook brewed something special in his final season with the Florida State Seminoles. He belongs in a unique class of running backs, posing a game-changing threat on every touch. The top runners in this class each have strengths, but Cook’s breakaway ability could be the most attractive trait of them all. The Seminoles’ star running back excelled on outside zone in particular, making him a good fit in schemes that emphasize perimeter runs.
While Cook catches the eye in many respects, there are times where he also makes onlookers want to turn away in disgust. Ball-security and durability are major concerns, and, surprisingly for a player that thrives in space, Cook performed below expectations in the passing game during his college career. Check the positives from his scouting report and watch out for Cook’s name when the three teams at bottom are on the clock.
What he does best:
- Outstanding vision, patience to allow blocks to develop playside but also decisive when presented with backside opportunities.
- Breaks long runs in spite of his blocking. Home run waiting to happen.
- Great fit in an outside zone scheme, best using his instincts to pick lanes and athleticism on the move.
- Elite acceleration ensures consistent big-play potential.
- Sufficient long speed to outrun defenders. Angle-changing speed.
- Able to make defenders miss at full speed, finished tops in elusive rating.
- Aggressive north/south runner, rarely looks to bounce plays outside.
- Not always searching for big play. Rarely takes losses, keeps the offense ahead of the chains.
- Even behind subpar run-blocking in 2016, made the most of it and showed the ability to take what is given.
The stretch play has been synonymous with the Colts since the dawn of the century. Indianapolis called outside zone on 35.2 percent of runs in 2016, suggesting he’ll be well suited to their offensive scheme. At 15th overall, they sit at about the right range in the first round to consider Cook. He would dramatically improve a backfield that has lacked a dominant back since Edgerrin James was in his prime. Frank Gore continues to grind away in the NFL, but he’s likely on his last legs at 33 years old. He ranked dead last in 2016 with an average of a big run (15-plus yards) only once in every 45.5 carries. Between Gore, Robert Turbin, and Josh Ferguson, the Colts managed only seven runs of 15-plus yards all season. They need more explosive plays from the backfield.
The upheaval in Washington could plausibly lead to a change in draft strategy. Kirk Cousins’ supporting cast has seen plenty of resources, but the backfield has been somewhat neglected. Although the scheme has diversified since Mike Shanahan was at the helm, Jay Gruden has retained outside zone as Washington’s break and butter. He called the play on 43.5 percent of runs last year, but lacked the personnel to enjoy consistent success on the edge. Rob Kelley was solid taking over as the Redskins’ starter midway through 2016, but Cook is a superior talent. He would also have a diminished burden on third down because of the presence of Chris Thompson. Cook could well come into play at 17th overall.
Andy Reid might not be able to use Cook creatively as a pass-catcher, but Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware can fulfill those specialist roles. As bad as Cook’s ball security is at times, Ware’s issues in that regard are at least similarly serious. Reid loves to test the speed of defenses horizontally – calling outside zone on 42.8 percent of runs in 2016 – making Cook a good fit for the Chiefs’ scheme. He would instantly improve Kansas City’s ball-control offense, regardless of who is under center. If he falls toward the end of the first-round, Reid’s penchant for waiting to draft backs will be tested. Sitting at 27th overall, the Chiefs appear a strong candidate to stop a potential Cook slide.