Rookie Scouting Portfolio contributor J Moyer breaks down Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook’s game in this week’s RSP RB room.
The RSP Running Back Room is dedicated to evaluating talent and skill while separating the back’s performance from the surrounding noise by illustrating fine points of running back play. Given this ethos, there is no better player to profile here than Dalvin Cook.
In 2019, Cook’s on-field success has been quite obvious. He is second in the NFL in rushing yards while averaging 5.6 yards per carry. As detailed in this space after Week 2, his anticipation and footwork between the tackles produce a brutally efficient running style that has resulted in five 20+ yard runs this season—most in the NFL.
Cook is not a great athlete compared to most NFL backs. He is relatively small, with limited lateral agility, explosiveness, good but not elite top-end speed, and a 37th percentile SPARQ score. Despite these limitations, he has produced Pro Football Focus’ 8th highest elusive rating this season and the numerous explosive runs mentioned above.
He does this with some of the most refined and skilled evasive running back play you will see.
Cook has mastered the use of what we call micro-movements. Subtle moves like dipping and turning the shoulder to reduce the tackling target; protecting his legs from contact with kicks, high knees and body lean; altering his linear pace, and using his off-arm with surgical precision rather than force.
Cook’s processing, control and precise attack of the chaos that is NFL running back play are special. Similar to master craftsman Frank Gore, his style is not built on physical prowess, and we should expect continued success—for a long time.
Previous Running Back Rooms
- Week One: LeSean McCoy And Miles Sanders–What is Vision?
- Week Two: Dalvin Cook, David Montgomery, Peyton Barber, and Kalen Ballage–Footwork Efficiency and Scheme Awareness
- Week 3: Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman–Yards Before Contact
- Week 4: David Johnson And Frank Gore–Pressing the Line of Scrimmage
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