Florida State’s Dalvin Cook has been one of the best running backs in college football for the past two seasons, and in what is expected to be his last year in college, has plans on becoming the second player from Florida State to win the Heisman Trophy in the past four seasons. Cook’s performance this year will have an impact on Florida State’s college football odds of winning the national championship because the team will rely more on the running game than the passing game this year.
Cook will also have a lot of competition for the Heisman, because Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey, and LSU’s Leonard Fournette are considered the front runners for the trophy this season.
While Cook isn’t as big and powerful as Fournette or as versatile as McCaffrey, he has something neither running back has, a breakout speed that makes him a dangerous threat any time he touches the ball.
Last season, Cook showed off his speed on several occasions, and finished the year with 1,066 yards on runs of 15 yards or more, which was the best in the nation according to Pro Football Focus.
Due to his size and the fact that the other players on the Heisman watchlist had better seasons than he did last year, Cook currently isn’t considered a Heisman favorite. But with the Seminoles offensive line being better than it was last year, and the team planning to run the ball more this season, Cook could have a breakout year that vaults him to the top of the Heisman list.
Even if Heisman voters don’t show Cook love at the end of the season, he is expected to be among the top running backs taken in the NFL Draft. Cook fits the model of the ideal NFL running back, he can catch the ball and has a lot of speed, which is something more NFL teams are looking for in a running back.
Last season, Derrick Henry walked away with the Heisman trophy because he was a bruising back that was able to gain a lot of yards. While most experts considered Henry to be the best running back in the draft, especially after winning the Heisman, he wasn’t selected until the second round of the draft, while Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliot was drafted with the 4th pick in the draft.
NFL teams preferred Elliot over Henry despite the significant difference in size because they saw Elliot put up big numbers throughout his career, especially during the Buckeyes championship run in 2014. Elliot is also a better pass catcher than Henry, which, like I previously mentioned, is what NFL teams are looking for.
Cook falls in the same category as Elliot, a smaller back that can do a lot of the things that bigger backs do, and is also a great pass catcher.
Despite Cook being the prototypical running back NFL teams are looking for these days, there are no guarantees that he will go as high as Elliot did because there are quite a few options at the running back position this year than there was last year.
Players like Nick Chubb, Royce Freeman, and Sony Michel are also expected to have great seasons this year, which will give teams more options to choose from during the draft, which is something they didn’t have a lot of last year.