Dalvin Cook Confident He’s The Best Running Back In Deep Draft Class

    Dalvin Cook is confident that he's the best running back in a deep NFL Draft class, on account of his ability to stay on the field for all three downs and multi-faceted skill set.

    March 3, 2017

    Dalvin Cook is confident that he’s the best running back in a deep NFL Draft class, on account of his ability to stay on the field for all three downs and multi-faceted skill set.

    The 2016 college football season was supposed to be the Year of the Running Back. Nick Chubb, Dalvin Cook, Royce Freeman, Leonard Fournette, Christian McCaffrey and a handful of other backs were expected to compete for the Heisman Trophy. And yet come December, nary a running back made it to New York, and quarterback Lamar Jackson took home the hardware.

    Injures and unfulfilled expectations ultimately upended the Year of the Running Back, but now it’s time for a reboot. Many of the game’s top backs opted to leave school early and try their hands at the NFL Draft – including the aforementioned trio of Cook, Fournette and McCaffrey. As for who the best is, a supremely confident Cook is betting on himself.

    “We’ve got the top guys in this class at running back. It’s probably one of the best you done seen yet and I think what separates me is I can do it all,” Cook told reporters on Thursday. “I can stay on the field all three downs and I’m just a do-it-all back.”

    While his self-assessment may sound braggadocios, Cook’s comments are exactly what coaches want in a player. The NFL Combine is a made-for-TV job interview. What professional, in any field, would sell him or herself short when working to land a gig?

    It’s not like there’s hollowness to Cook’s words, either. He’s, statistically, the best running back to ever come out of Florida State – a school that produced Warrick Dunn and current Atlanta Falcons star Devonta Freeman. As for what sets the self-professed do-it-all back apart from his competition in this year’s deep field, Cook attributes the way he was employed by Jimbo Fisher to do more than simply run out of the backfield.

    “[Coach] Fisher asked a lot of me,” Cook said. “To run a lot of routes, pick up a lot of protections. I think we had a lot [of passing assignments], just like the NFL. Probably not as much, so he got us prepared and ready.”

    Aside from his ability to do everything from pick up blocks to catch passes out of the backfield, Cook’s draft stock was significantly helped by the success of Ezekiel Elliott’s rookie season. Originally viewed as a reach with the No. 4 pick in last year’s draft, Elliott exploded onto the scene by winning the rushing title and rookie of the year accolades. He proved that the running back position – one that has been increasingly marginalized – can still be worthy of a high pick if used on the proper player.

    By Cook’s estimation, it’s now his time to carry the torch.

    “And I just feel like I am the best back in this class.”

    MORE: 2018 Recruit James Cook Has Higher Upside Than Brother Dalvin


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