Packers Draft Preview: Florida State RB Dalvin Cook

Mock drafts here, there, and everywhere keep pushing the idea that the Packers are going to pick a running back in the first round, but until recently, Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey has been the preferred hypothetical target.

No longer. Mel Kiper Jr.’s latest offering suggests Dalvin Cook of Florida State could be the Packers’ pick in the first round.

Cook is undeniably talented and productive, but as we’ve well established, the Packers have very specific needs from their running backs, and Cook may not fit the bill.

What are Cook’s strengths?

  • Successful from day one at Florida State; he was the first running back to break 1,000 yards in his first season with the team.
  • Excellent vision helps him anticipate running lanes.
  • Skills translate to different running philosophies.
  • Gets beyond the line of scrimmage quickly and refuses to dance or bounce runs outside.

What are Cook’s weaknesses?

  • Repeated run-ins with the law, including a 2015 arrest for punching a woman.
  • Ball security is a problem: he fumbled 14 times in 763 touches in college.
  • Not a great receiver.
  • Didn’t show explosiveness at the Combine; ran a 4.49 40-yard dash and his vertical was just 30.5 inches.

How Dalvin Cook fits with the Packers

It’s easy to see why so many analysts keep connecting the Packers with running backs: the picks do make sense on paper.

Cook, like McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara, could be a boost to the Packers’ ground game, and he’s a special talent. That’s not an exaggeration. To a man, almost everyone who’s been around Cook has identified him as a singular player.

Tim Brewster, the coach that recruited Cook to Florida State, had the highest praise of all. He compared Cook to a future Hall of Famer before Cook even stepped on campus as a freshman:

"I had three years with Ladanian Tomlinson, and I think he has a lot of the same skills as Ladanian. I think he has more top end speed than Ladanian. Ladanian was a little bit bigger, but not much. I think that Dalvin Cook is very, very quickly going to make his mark on college football."

Even as a freshman, Cook’s skills were advanced, and he showed that he could do something the Packers value from their backs almost above everything else: he can pass block. Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher specifically called out Cook’s pass blocking as early as his freshman season.

Will the Packers draft Dalvin Cook?

As enticing as many of the prospects likely to be available at 29 can be, it’s very hard to imagine the Packers selecting a running back in the first round.

The Packers haven’t used their first pick on a running back since 1990, and for good reason: the position has become increasingly devalued over the last generation. Unless a team has good reason to believe it’s selecting the next Ezekiel Elliot or Adrian Peterson, why even bother when so many good players can be had later?

Additionally, the Packers have huge, well-documented needs elsewhere. Even though Cook is viewed as a potentially great player, the Packers needs on defense should outweigh even Cook’s potential.