The 2017 NFL Draft class of running backs is loaded from top to bottom, and yet again the Detroit Lions are looking for help at the position. Whether it’s to grab a future starter or insurance for Ameer Abdullah, the Lions are poised to grab some serious talent at running back. Though it appears that Detroit has shown efforts to improve the run game, the results have not matched their attempts.
Aside from the 1,000-yard rushing season for Reggie Bush in 2013, the Lions have struggled to put a viable rushing attack on the field. The challenges that Detroit has had running the ball has taken its toll on franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford. Opposing defenses could begin to shut down the passing attack once the Lions abandoned their ineffective running game.
This Lions team has a history of experiencing a down year after making the playoffs the previous season. If Detroit hopes to avoid that trend, they will need to address their running back situation and improve their offensive attack.
The junior from Miami, FL is entering the NFL Draft after a stellar season, and career as a Seminole. The momentum that Cook has carried since his excellent performance in the Capital One Orange Bowl against the Michigan Wolverines has helped his draft stock and solidified him as an all-time great at the position for Florida State. The running back will hear his name called Day 1 of this draft and has the potential to be the star back wherever he winds up playing.
Dalvin Cook has his share of strengths and weaknesses, and Grant Baker has provided his evaluation of the Florida State product.
- Very dangerous in the open field
- Low center of gravity allows him to bounce off tacklers
- Very good receiver out of the backfield, ideal as a third down back
- Great burst and ability to change directions
- Good, not great long speed
- Does not have great power, may be limited between the tackles, especially in a power scheme
- Misses blocks in pass protection
Cook is a dynamic back. At worst, he’s an excellent third down option due to his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. At best, he’s a Jamaal Charles clone with 1,500 yards from scrimmage type production. Despite this class being loaded, particularly with running backs, Cook is Grant Baker’s 11th ranked player. He would be an absolute nightmare in a zone running scheme.
How Cook fits in Detroit
Dalvin Cook is the running back that has the skill set to gel right into the offensive system the Lions run. The hybrid style of being able to catch out of the backfield and power his way between the tackles is what makes Dalvin Cook special. Though he is not the best running between the tackles, Offensive Coordinator Jim Bob Cooter would be able to get the most out of Cook in both the passing and rushing game.
The Lions have struggled to find that back who can handle the workload required of an RB1 in the NFL. Dalvin Cook has the potential to be the number one guy for the Lions, and make the impact in the running game necessary for this team to grow.
Given how dangerous Dalvin Cook can be when he is in the open field, Cook has all the makings of a playmaker. While he may not have blazing speed, Cook is shifty and can make defenders miss when they try to tackle him. Bringing on a Dalvin Cook would not spell the end for Ameer Abdullah in Detroit. In fact, that move will benefit Abdullah and Cook alike. Two backs with different talents, yet so similar, Cook and Abdullah would become a great combo in the Detroit backfield. Not to mention, sharing the load would do wonders for both player’s health and longevity in this league.
Scenario the Lions Select Dalvin Cook
The former Florida State star has generated a lot of buzz during this draft process, and interests multiple teams that are looking for a new running back. To watch Cook fall to 21 is not improbable, but it is highly unlikely at this point. There are four, maybe five, different spots before the Lions selection that Dalvin Cook may land.
Be that as it may, the draft is always full of twists and turns. The moment there is a trade, the flow of the picks begins to alter; different players are grabbed, and teams start to reach on those guys they think might be there. For Detroit, if Dalvin Cook is their guy, fingers will point to a potential aggressive move and trade up a few slots to get themselves their guy.
The addition of someone like Dalvin Cook would give the Lions the hopes that they can balance their offensive attack. With the depth available at multiple positions of need for Detroit, they have the leeway to go up and snag a guy like Cook before they begin to address those needs. Lions fans should walk away happy, and hopeful for their team if Detroit makes a move on Dalvin Cook.
Still not convinced? Check out an earlier article on Dalvin Cook, and see why he makes sense for the Lions in the first round here.