Dalvin Cook Predictions Coming in
It’s only spring and the Vikings are going through early practices, but expectations have already arrived for rookie running back Dalvin Cook. Anticipation among fans and media has been present since the Vikings moved up in April’s NFL Draft to select the former Florida State All-American in the second round, but a couple things said recently are newsworthy.
Vikings college scout and veteran front office authority Scott Studwell made a prediction last week about the 21-year-old who will compete to replace Adrian Peterson as the team’s starting running back. “He’s going to play early and he’s going to play a lot,” Studwell told Sports Headliners. “We’ll see how it all shakes out.”
If there is a guru among pro football writers, it’s Sports Illustrated’s Peter King. He had his own projection about Cook last week. He wrote online that by Halloween the 5-10, 210-pound Cook will be one of the NFL’s five best running backs. King also said the Vikings need a renewed running game and Cook—along with veteran Latavius Murray—can provide the answer.
The Vikings ranked last in NFL rushing last season at 75.3 yards per game. Studwell said the Vikings must commit to running the ball and Cook can be a major contributor. “Hopefully he’ll loosen up the box a little bit. He’ll put pressure on defenses. He’s got big play potential and that’s what we were missing.”
Studwell studied Cook on tape before the Vikings made him their highest drafted running back since they took Stanford’s Toby Gerhart in the second round in 2010.
“He is an exceptional athlete,” Studwell said about Cook. “He can do everything. He catches it extremely well. He’s got great feet, he’s got really good eyes. He plays probably faster than he times. He’s got game speed. He’s got exceptional inside run ability. He’s pretty much the entire package.”
A history of off-field problems and injuries gave teams pause in drafting Cook who could have been a first round choice but instead was the ninth player chosen in the second round. Now he has a new start in the pros. “(For) anybody’s general impression, he’s just a good guy,” said fellow rookie Eric Wilson.
Wilson is a linebacker, and playing on the other side of the ball has given him an opportunity to watch Cook. “His quickness is hard to come by,” Wilson said. (With) his vision, he’s able to make cuts that a lot of people just can’t make. That’s going to take him a long way as long as he stays in the playbook.”
Maybe Cook’s rookie season will draw comparisons to Peterson’s 2007 debut when he rushed for an NFC best 1,341 yards. That effort, combined with Chester Taylor’s running, allowed the Vikings to set a team rushing record of 2,634 yards as Minnesota ranked No. 1 in NFL rushing offense. Cook, Murray and the Vikings have no where to go but up.
Tre Jones, the elite prep point guard from Apple Valley High School, suffered a top ankle sprain last week and is on crutches. “He needs time to heal but nothing is broken,” said his cousin Al Nuness.
Jones was playing in California for his Minnesota team that competes in the Nike EYBL when injured. The culmination of the EYBL schedule comes at the Peach Jam July 12-16 in South Carolina and Nuness said that figures to be a target date for Jones’ return, if not sooner.
The Twins have the first pick in the June 12 first-year player draft but don’t expect that player to be on the big league roster this year. The only first round pick ever to play for the Twins in his first season as a pro was pitcher Eddie Bane who made his big league debut July 4, 1973 at Met Stadium with no time spent in the minors.
The Twins probably could draw a near capacity crowd at Target field if they showcased their No. 1 this year. The club is hoping to draw 2 million fans and top last season’s attendance of 1,963,912 million, the lowest ever in seven years at Target Field.
If Mike Zimmer’s eye struggles were to sideline him for an indefinite period it’s a decent guess general manager Rick Spielman will designate offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur as interim head coach. Shurmur has NFL head coaching experience—2011 and 2012 with the Browns, and 2015 as interim boss with the Eagles. He was promoted by Zimmer last fall from tight ends coach to offensive coordinator when Norv Turner left the team.
Schurmur and wife Jennifer entered their bulldog Penny in Canterbury Park’s fourth annual Running of the Bulldogs yesterday at Canterbury Park. Penny didn’t emerge as a winning dog in one of the racetrack’s more popular just for fun promotions that also include annual Corgi and Weiner dog races.
Ex-Gophers athletic director Joel Maturi will have the University of Minnesota Sports Pavilion named for him at a yet to be determined event this fall. Maturi retired in 2012. His career highlights included the building of TCF Bank Stadium and a deep commitment to gender equity.
It was 15 years ago last week that legendary Gophers athlete and athletic director Paul Giel died unexpectedly from a heart attack. Giel, an All-American at Minnesota in baseball and football, had a varied career that also included being sports director at WCCO Radio.