Heading into the 2017 NFL Draft, Leonard Fournette, Christian McCaffrey and Dalvin Cook were seemingly competing to see which running back would be selected first.
As expected, Fournette and McCaffrey went in the top 10. But Cook dropped — significantly — due to off-the-field concerns. He fell to the Minnesota Vikings at pick No. 41 in the second round.
By all indications, Cook is living up to his pre-draft hype.
“The first thing the veteran players I’ve talked to about him say is, ‘This guy gets it,’ ” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said Sunday after practice, according to Sports Illustrated. “He understands protections, he works hard, they see how he interacts in the locker room, and that’s part of it. And then, when you have a special player — like when we got [linebacker Anthony] Barr — they say, ‘Hey, man, this guy is different than other guys.’
“That’s kinda how he is. They see him out there on the field with the other guys, and it’s like, ‘There’s something different about this guy, the way he runs, accelerates, the creases he can get to.’ He’s got a tough mentality. Players can see exceptional athletes. When they go out there and they’re going against guys, they can see: This guy is pretty good.”
Considering that Cook is replacing Adrian Peterson, who was pretty good himself, the Vikings would love to see the former Florida State back become a star this season. Minnesota was dead last in 2016 with an average of 3.2 yards per rush.
Cook rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each of his three seasons at Florida State. As a sophomore, he averaged 7.4 yards per carry. As a junior last fall, he ran for a career-high 1,765 yards with 19 touchdowns.
Cook scored 48 touchdowns in 38 games at Florida State.