An extended look at the FSU star.
Despite the 20-plus minutes on Dalvin Cook in this RSP Film Room, there’s more that I want to see from the FSU back before I feel comfortable with my overall assessment of him. I’m sold that he’s one of the safest bets in this class of runners, but I’m not buying the added hype—not yet.
Don’t write me about Cook after you see my examination of him below. I don’t care what you think. I have my own process and that doesn’t include lobbying from superfans who probably will have more success with this technique with their state legislature. This is a snapshot of where I am in January.
Views often change for me between January and April.
Here’s where I am now: Cook’s burst, agility, patience, and decision-making are all starter-caliber traits. I don’t like his power. It’s average, if not below-average for an NFL starter who will run from the I-Formation on a regular basis.
I’m considering whether his balance will make up for it. His balance is a strength of his game.
There are other questions related to this: Is Cook a true 214 lbs or is that a college-adjusted 10-15 pounds that wear down to 195-200 as a season progresses? Will Cook be able to add weight and maintain his explosion? Could Cooks’ above average balance make up for his power?
For those of you wondering, I think of Power as strength to push piles and run through wraps and break multiple tackles during a carry. Cook can break tackles to wraps below his shins and he has the slippery power to avoid direct hits that lead to solid wraps. But there are a lot of backs in this draft that I’d rather have at the goal line or in short-yardage if we know the play will require the power I defined above.
The one facet of Cook’s power that I like a lot is his stiff-arm. It’s accurate, well-placed, and effective against all three levels of defenders. But I’d classify a stiff arm as a category of Leverage and I probably will when it’s time to recategorize the RSP criteria in a few years.
Where Cook shines against contact is his balance. He bounces off hits from all comers when the path of the hit isn’t from directly over top.
Like Marshawn Lynch and Darren Sproles, Cook has a knack for getting hit in the legs at angles that would topple most backs but he has an awareness for where his legs should land so the force of the blow and the movement of his body won’t be too much for his footing to stay intact. It’s like watching a cat land on its feet despite making odd leaps while playing with another animal or a knocking a glass off a table and seeing it land on its base after tumbling base over lip.
I doubt the answers to these questions will knock Cook from the top tier of this class of backs. It hasn’t so far.
Still, I’m left wondering something that I never thought I’d be at this point: Is Cook the safest back in this class but not necessarily the one with the greatest upside?
The working comp I have for Cook? A bigger Giovani Bernard. For those of you long-time RSP Subscribers, Bernard was essentially tied with Eddie Lacy as my top talent in that class (LeVeon Bell was No.3 and I was higher than the norm on him.). I believe Bernard is a capable NFL starter for a team that wanted to use him like the Falcons use Devonta Freeman.
In fact, a faster Devonta Freeman isn’t a bad one, either.
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