Passing is the focus of most NFL teams in the modern game, but the running game is still important to have success in the league. With many teams employing a running back-by-committee approach to the ground game now, when a squad finds a workhouse back who can handle the majority of the rushing workload it gives them an advantage.
Dalvin Cook’s impressive career so far
The Vikings selected Cook in the second round (No. 41 overall) of the 2017 draft, and it has paid off for them. He didn’t get much playing time as a rookie, but took over as the team’s main runner the next year.
In 2018 and 2019, Cook played in 25 games and ran for 1,750 yards with 15 touchdowns. He also tallied 93 receptions in those seasons, resulting in an additional 824 yards and a couple of touchdowns through the air. Cook made his first Pro Bowl last year.
Dalvin Cook is doing even better in 2020
This season is even better for Cook, who has played in seven of the Vikings’ first eight games and has been one of the team’s few bright spots. And even with missing a game due to injury, Cook is leading the league in key rushing categories.
He has carried the ball 201 times for 1,069 yards, and he has already found the end zone 14 times — which is the best in the NFL and just one score fewer than he had in twice as many games last season.
With those numbers, Cook should get MVP consideration, but it’s usually hard for a non-quarterback to win the award.
Dalvin Cook is the best running back in the NFL
With the breakout season Cook is having he is becoming the best running back in the league, and Fansided lists some reasons why that is the case. Here are two major reasons.
Getting more out of his runs
Offensive linemen are getting better and more athletic than they used to, which opens things up for the average running back. With Cook, he is able to get more yardage than what the Vikings’ line gives me compared to other backs.
Among qualifying running backs, Cook ranks fifth in the league with 3.57 yards per carry after contact, which is part of a continuing improvement for him in the stat — he has never finished better than 20th. Minnesota’s offensive line has struggled this season, but that’s not as big as an issue if it could be if Cook wasn’t as good as picking up extra yards after contact.
Adding value as a receiver
It’s good for a running back to be a dual-threat and able to produce in the passing game as well as on the ground. Dalvin Cook fills that role for the Vikings, as he is active in the screen game. The Florida State alum often gets tossed the ball on short throws, but he is able to turn those into big plays when he gets into the open field and does his thing.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference