2017 NFL Draft Pre-Combine Scouting Report: Dalvin Cook

Dec 30, 2016; Miami Gardens, FL, USA;  Florida State Seminoles running back Dalvin Cook (4) runs the ball in the first quarter against the Michigan Wolverines at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

Dalvin Cook will enter the 2017 NFL Draft, but how does the Florida State star stack-up in a loaded running back class?

Finishing his three-year career at Florida State, Dalvin Cook had a memorable and productive junior season in 2016, rushing for 1,765 yards on 288 carries. He finished with 19 touchdowns, averaging 6.1 yards per carry.

His overall production overall was higher than in his sophomore season when he rushed for 1,691 yards on 229 carries, though he did average fewer yards per carry. In 2015, his average was 7.4 yards per carry. However, that might be less due to Cook and more to the players around him—both on the offensive line and in terms of other skill-position players.

Cook also did a solid job as a receiver with 33 receptions for 488 yards and one touchdown. One of those receptions went for 59 yards against the Miami Hurricanes, a game where he also rushed for 150 yards on 27 carries.

By most accounts, Cook is one of the two best running backs in the draft class—the best overall to some. Moreover, there are some that view him as a top-five overall prospect.  At 5-11, 206 pounds, Cook has the ability to start on an NFL roster from Day 1. And with teams always looking to add another running back to their roster, Cook should be the first or second running back in the first round selected in the draft.

Let’s dive deep into Cook as a player, looking at his strengths, weaknesses, and what his NFL future could look like.

Nov 26, 2016; Tallahassee, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles running back Dalvin Cook (4) runs the ball past Florida Gators defenders during the second half of the game at Doak Campbell Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

Strengths

Just watch Cook on some highlight film, and you can see the talent jump right off the screen. Cook can run inside the tackles, outside the tackles, and if there were anywhere else to run, he’d run well there too. He does so with his speed and ability to not only break tackles, but let his linemen make the holes needed for the big gains.

ESPN Insider has Cook timed with a 4.49-second 40-yard dash time, which translates to a strength in an ability to break away from the defense once he sees the open field. It is simple: if Cook gets open space, he’s tough to catch.

One play that shows many of Cook’s abilities came against Miami this season on a second-and-5 play around the 10:40 mark of the second quarter. Cook took the handoff, went between two Hurricane players, broke a potential tackle, kept his balance enough to fight off a slight stumble, and then turned on his speed. He rushed from his own 22-yard line all the way to the Miami 21-yard line. That single highlight shows what strengths Cook can provide to a team in the NFL, possibly the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or Philadelphia Eagles will take note.

Another part of Cook’s game that is a strength is the fact he rushes straight ahead through the line and doesn’t run sideline to sideline much. He can make defenses miss tackle attempts, but he does so by keeping his speed and moving forward, not looking toward the sideline, most of the time.

Though Cook has more than a few strengths, it comes back to his speed that will really grab the attention of an NFL team. Many have spoken highly of Cook in this draft process, but when it comes to Cook he’s proven himself as an highly touted NFL talent with his overall body of work.

Nov 19, 2016; Syracuse, NY, USA; Florida State Seminoles running back Dalvin Cook (4) makes a cut in order to avoid a tackle by Syracuse Orange defensive back Rodney Williams (6) and defensive lineman De

Weaknesses

Depending on how long he wants his career to last at the next level, does being more of a straightforward rusher hurt his long-term game in any way? Cook’s not afraid to take a hit, but he also easily makes defenses miss. But with Cook, and any other back in football, the hits in the NFL will eventually take a toll.

Some have questioned the pass protection abilities of Cook, and his injuries have been brought up as well. This season, he struggled with his right shoulder in September. But overall, what weaknesses he does have with his game shouldn’t hurt him too much in the draft process.

Take, for example, his pass protection abilities. That can be worked on this offseason and with whatever NFL team selects him. But with his injuries, if he just gets a chance to heal up this offseason, participate in the NFL Combine and prove to NFL teams he can stay health,y he’ll still easily contend to be a first-round choice.

Cook does have another issue that should draw diuscussion from NFL scouts, and that is holding on to the football. The FSU running back totaled six fumbles this past season, and in the two previous years, he had a combined seven fumbles, with three in 2015 and four in 2014.

Dec 30, 2016; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles running back Dalvin Cook (4) celebrates after being named MVP of the Orange Bowl after defeating the Michigan Wolverines 33-32 at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Outlook

How can one not believe Cook will become a fixture in an NFL offense for the foreseeable future? Being that he’s one of the top running backs in the draft will get him in the door of the NFL with high expectations, though a lot will depend on what team will draft him in late April, too.

One team who could be looking for a running back to play at least on first and second down is the Detroit Lions, while others like the Indianapolis Colts, New York Giants and others really need to look into a player like Cook as their running backs are either replaceable or veterans who might not be in the league much longer.

Cook can have great success in the NFL as he’s able to absorb hits with his size, but can take over a game if just given a split second to race through the gaps provided by his offensive line. His speed will make him in the NFL, but being able to stay on the field is what will be the ultimate key for success with Cook and his upcoming NFL career.

His outlook in the NFL is full of high potential, and Cook should become a player that all of us will be pleased to watch in 2017.

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