Fast food for a hungry offense
The most exciting player in basketball right now (besides Joel Embiid, obviously), is Russell Westbrook. After losing his former teammate Kevin Durant to the Warriors, Westbrook has been carrying Oklahoma City basically on his own. Along with being a workhorse, what makes Westbrook so special is his athletic ability… The fact that he is a “one man fast break” completely changes the complexion of any game he’s in, any minute he is on the court, because the opposition needs to account for the fact that he can run coast to coast at any moment on them.
Watching Westbrook is exhilarating. Sure he may not be an efficient player, but few workhorse types are and when his highs are so high, you take the low with it. Watching Westbrook also reminds me of what the Eagles so desperately need on their team: The Eagles need their “one man fast break”. Not a single player on the Eagles offense puts the fear of life into a defense. The opposing eleven can just tighten the field because there is no one who can break off a big run or take the top off in the passing game. Adding even one player who provides that dynamic would totally change the offense…
Looking at the landscape of college football and there is only one player who gives that Russell Westbrook vibe: Dalvin Cook.
The Florida State star running back has clearly been a special player ever since his freshman year. You could argue that he was the best player on the 2014 Seminole offense that included Jameis Winston. His incredible agility, acceleration and long speed made him a danger to take over a game at any touch. His first two seasons, Cook was the king of big plays, picking up almost 3700 rushing yards on 399 carries, scoring 27 touchdowns on the ground in that span. This season, however, Florida State got a freshman quarterback and the offensive line lost a lot of experienced players. Cook was relied on to be the focal point of an offense where defenses basically knew he was getting the ball. Cook responded with his best season to date. Though he did not match his gaudy 7.4 yards per carry from last year, Cook seemed more patient this season, displaying much better vision and was overall a more complete and consistent runner. So he added dependability to his game on top of his ability to bust a game wide open with his speed. He also looked more powerful this season, fighting through contact and powering over weak tackles. If this all was not enough, Cook was a dangerous weapon on third down, accumulating over 400 receiving yards through the air at 14.2 yards per catch. That is ridiculous receiving efficiency for a running back. 14.2 yards per catch would be the best mark on a lot of NFL teams, including Philly.
So Cook is that Russell Westbrook type of stud that would change any football team he stepped onto. He can handle a heavy workload and respond with big time production. On 298 touches this season (with the bowl game left), Cook has accumulated about 2050 total yards and 19 total touchdowns… Not bad. He has a rare type of speed that NFL teams covet, but is also a savvy, hard running, every down back that makes him such a strong prospect.
His biggest issues are hard to quantify. He has been nicked up during his career and some may worry he is a bit skinny to be an every down back, which I do not totally believe. His biggest concern will be interviews with NFL teams. Cook was tagged with a battery charge when he was 18 years old. Though he did not get indicted, it leaves a big stain on his reputation. These are issues that must be taken seriously by teams and the league. All words out of FSU support that Cook has been a model citizen since the charge, which at the least could support a change in heart. There is nothing to suggest there is some sort of dangerous pattern, just the heinous and regrettable actions of a college kid.
It is hard not to watch Dalvin Cook and not think of Jamaal Charles. Charles has been one of the best backs in the league during his career and his blend of consistency and athletic ability allowed him to gain at least five yards per carry in every full season he played, a remarkable and unmatched feat. The two runners are both extraordinarily gifted runners and receivers whose biggest concern is health and being slightly skinny for the position.
On field, there is no doubt that Cook is the best back in this class and his talent alone warrants a top 10 selection. The combine will be pivotal for him in terms of proving he has NFL size and also that he can get through interviews proving maturity. For the Eagles, Cook is the every down threat the Eagles desperately need who could serve as the bell cow in the running game while immediately becoming the eagles most dynamic option in the passing game. If he were sitting there at the Eagles pick, I am sure Jamaal Charles’ former offensive coordinator will be thinking pretty seriously about drafting the next great Eagles running back.
This post first appeared on Bleeding Green Nation, A Philadelphia Eagles Commu, please read the originial post: here