Outside of the college football playoff, there might not be a better bowl game than the Orange Bowl, which features Florida State and Michigan. The best player in the game will be Florida State running back Dalvin Cook, who will go up against a Michigan defense that many consider to be a top two defense in the country.
Cook has had an illustrious college career that lead many to believe he’s the top back in this year’s class. Michigan will likely be the best defense he’s faced in his college career, and if he plays well he could cement himself as a first round draft pick.
Cook has been one of the most productive backs in the nation over the past three seasons. He has had over 1,000 yards rushing yards, eight touchdowns, and 20 receptions every year. His past two seasons have been even more impressive. Last year he had 1,935 total yards with 20 total touchdowns, and this year he’s put up 2,046 total yards and 19 total touchdowns. Just listing Cook’s numbers doesn’t do him justice. Here’s the list of players who have put up similar numbers to him:
Williams, Mathews, McGahee, Ingram, and Charles have all had succesful NFL careers, while Abdullah has a bright future ahead of him in the league. Fournette and Freeman could be early round picks in this year’s NFL Draft. Again, raw numbers don’t show just how good Cook has been. Here’s how he compares to some of his peers in this years draft class in terms of Market Share Numbers:
|Name||MS Rush Yds||MS Rush TD||Rush DR||Ms Rec Yds||MS Red TD||Rec DR|
*Fournette was injured for most of the season, but still had fewer yards than his teammate Derrius Guice on a greater number of carries
Cook is second in MS rush yards, MS rush touchdowns, and MS in receiving yards, in what is a totally stacked class.
Cook is listed at 5 feet 11 inches, 213 pounds, which is right around average size for a running back. Coming out of high school, he was an above average athlete. Here were his numbers from The Opening, which is essentially a combine for the nations top prospects:
- 4.46 40 yard dash
- 4.18 20 yard short shuttle
- 30.9 inch vertical jump
- 38 foot power ball throw (equivalent of bench press)
- 110 SPARQ Score
From this we can see that Cook has good speed and agility, but he was clearly lacking in the explosiveness department. Hopefully we can see Cook improve on these numbers at the NFL Combine, as broad jump is one of the most important combine drills for running backs.
As Jordan Hoover pointed out in his mid season article about Cook, there are some concerns about him as a prospect:
When discussing concerns surrounding Cook, injuries will inevitably be brought up. Although he’s missed just two games in three seasons, he has dealt with a litany of injuries, including major off-season shoulder surgery.
Cook was also charged with battery in July 2015 and was suspended by Florida State indefinitely. He was found not guilty and subsequently reinstated to the team. This likely doesn’t concern most NFL teams, but it still is something to keep in mind.
It may come down to Cook and Christian McCaffery for the top player in the class, but either way he should be a first round pick in rookie drafts. Cook was selected with the 1.01 pick in Shawn Siegle’s mock rookie draft, and he could immediately be a top five running back. If he kills the combine I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go in the top 10 to 15 picks of the NFL draft.