Minnesota Vikings’ general manager, Rick Spielman, did what he does best and has become known for in recent years; making big moves during the NFL Draft. On Friday night, Spielman traded the Vikings’ second and fourth round picks (number 48 and 128 overall) to the Cincinnati Bengals, in order to move up seven spots in the second round and select Florida State running back, Dalvin Cook, with the 41st overall pick.
With Cook falling out of the first round, Spielman and the Vikings got to work on Friday morning and came up with the plan to trade up for the dynamic young back, after feeling that he wouldn’t be available when it came time to make the 48th overall selection. Cook became just the third running back to come off the board after both Leonard Fournette (4th overall, Jacksonville Jaguars) and Christian McCaffrey (8th overall, Carolina Panthers) were selected in the top-10.
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Cook has the talent and potential to be the Vikings’ feature back of the future and fill the void left by Adrian Peterson, after Minnesota declined to pick up his option in late February, sending him to free agency. Those will be big shoes for Cook to fill with Peterson leaving Minnesota as the team’s all-time leading rusher after 10 seasons. Peterson, who experienced a decline in production in recent years, signed with the New Orleans Saints just days before the draft.
Cook joins the Vikings’ now suddenly crowded backfield that includes Latavius Murray, who was signed by the team back in March and recently underwent surgery on his ankle, and Jerick McKinnon, who led Minnesota’s league-worst rushing attack last season. It is unclear who will be the Vikings’ lead back at this point, but Cook likely has a decent chance to carve out an every-down role for himself.
Some had called Cook “the best running back in the draft,” with many analysts and experts having him as a first round lock. His fall to the second round was largely prompted by what were seen as alarming off field character concerns while at Florida State. Back in 2014, Cook was charged with criminal mischief and was then suspended indefinitely in 2015 for his alleged role outside a Tallahassee bar, but was later acquitted of all charges.
Though his off field issues have left many guessing, his on field contributions were never in doubt. During each of his three seasons with Florida State, Cook was a 1,000-yard rusher, with his best season coming last year as he rushed for 1,765 yards and 19 touchdowns. He decided to forego his senior year and instead opted for this year’s NFL Draft. Cook leaves Florida State as the Seminole’s all-time leading rusher.
Cook is thought to be a complete back and has a proven track record of success. With his game changing, playmaking ability, Cook could very well be day two’s biggest steal, if not the biggest of this year’s NFL Draft. Spielman may have just pulled off his greatest coup yet.