Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bucs should jump at chance to draft FSU RB Dalvin Cook

Two of the first things that stood out about Dalvin Cook were his shoes — shiny and gold.

They carried him to 223 yards and four touchdowns in Miami Central High's 52-7 win over Armwood in the 2013 state title game. They flashed as he capped an 80-yard score by somersaulting into the end zone.

After that day in Orlando, I watched him in garnet and gold as he attacked former Bucs great Warrick Dunn's records at Florida State. I saw Cook at his best (169 yards, four touchdowns against eventual national champion Clemson) and his worst (two lost fumbles in the Rose Bowl). I put him on my Heisman Trophy ballot — twice.

I'm not an NFL scout or a draft guru. But after covering Cook for three-plus years, I know enough to know this: If Cook is available Thursday at the No. 19 overall pick, the Bucs would be foolish not to draft him.

It's not just his numbers: 48 touchdowns and an FSU-record 4,464 rushing yards, most by an ACC player in three seasons.

It's how Cook amassed those statistics. He rushed for 38 touchdowns and more than 3,400 yards over the past two seasons despite playing behind a mediocre offensive line.

Cook turned routine plays into big gains, as the best backs do in the NFL. Over the past two seasons, his 35 rushes of at least 20 yards ranked second in the country (and two ahead of Stanford's Christian McCaffrey).

When the Seminoles needed him to become a better receiving threat, Cook obliged; his 488 yards last season ranked second on the team.

The pedestrian numbers he put up at the NFL scouting combine don't reflect his career spent in a conference with some of the nation's top run defenses.

Worried about his speed? His average touchdown covered 26 yards. Fifteen covered at least 35, including a 75-yarder at Clemson and a 59-yard catch at Miami. Slow backs can't do that.

There's a reason Florida coach Jim McElwain called him the most explosive player in the country. And that was before Cook racked up 153 yards and a touchdown on his Gators in November.

"He's a special, special player who is going to play a long time at the next level," said McElwain, a former NFL assistant coach.

It's easy to spotlight Cook's performances in some of FSU's biggest tests. In 2015 he faced two defenses (Clemson and Florida) with 10 starters who could be on NFL rosters this year. He shredded the Gators for 183 yards and two touchdowns, and he torched the Tigers for 194 yards and a score. In the Orange Bowl, he put up 207 yards and a touchdown on a Michigan defense that started at least five draft picks.

Those showings overshadow Cook's most impressive trait: consistency. Consider the sleepy home game in November 2015 against North Carolina State. It would have been easy for a banged-up Cook to relax against a ho-hum opponent a week after his team's ACC title hopes ended.

Instead, Cook saved the Seminoles. One play that began with a nearly botched handoff ended with him bouncing off four tacklers on a 30-yard touchdown that sparked a run of 27 unanswered points (and a 34-17 win). Cook was a threat to do that on any play, in any game.

No, Cook is not perfect. There are rumblings about his character — he was found not guilty in 2015 of misdemeanor battery after being accused of punching a woman — even if folks around FSU say those concerns are overblown. It's fair to question his durability after hamstring and shoulder injuries hampered his college career. Ball security at times was an issue.

But after covering 16 of his games over three-plus seasons, I can't see him failing in the NFL.

Going back to high school, everything Cook has done has been golden.

Contact Matt Baker at mbaker@tampabay.com. Follow @MBakerTBTimes.

Bucs should jump at chance to draft FSU RB Dalvin Cook 04/22/17 [Last modified: Sunday, April 23, 2017 12:20am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Yellow cards stall Rowdies offense in tie with St. Louis

    Soccer

    ST. PETERSBURG — It's not the result they wanted, but it certainly could have been worse. Neill Collins' 87th-minute header off a corner kick was the reward the Rowdies settled for Saturday night during a 1-1 draw with St. Louis before an announced 6,068 at Al Lang Stadium.

  2. Florida softball returns to World Series; FSU baseball in ACC title game

    Colleges

    GAINESVILLE — Florida defeated Alabama 2-1 Saturday to win the deciding Game 3 of their softball Super Region, putting the Gators in the Women's College World Series for the eighth time in program history.

    ’NOLE POWER: FSU’s Dylan Busby, right, is congratulated by teammate Taylor Walls after Busby’s homer against Duke.
  3. Calvary Christian routs Pensacola Christian to win state baseball title

    Baseballpreps

    FORT MYERS — Calvary Christian left no doubt as to which baseball team in Class 4A was the best in Florida this season. The Warriors defeated Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium to claim the school's first state championship in any team sport. It also solidified a 30-0 season. …

    Matheu Nelson celebrates after scoring on a wild pitch during the first inning, when Calvary Christian took a 6-0 lead.
  4. Numerous lapses add up to frustrating Rays loss to Twins

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — While the Rays made some good defensive plays, threw a couple of big pitches when they needed to and got a few, and just a few, key hits, there were some obvious things they did wrong that led to them losing Saturday's game to the Twins 5-3:

    Rays reliever Tommy Hunter says the Twins’ tiebreaking homer came on a pitch that was “close to where I wanted it.”
  5. Rays journal: Steven Souza Jr. laughing right along after comical dive

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — Souza being Souza.

    That seemed to be the best way to describe the entertaining — and comically bad — dive Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. attempted in Friday's game, and the good humor he showed in handling the fallout, including a standing ovation his next at-bat from the …

    Twitter