Prior to a season-ending ACL tear, Cook was looking like a surefire rookie sensation. On his 74 carries prior to his injury, Cook totaled 354 yards on the ground. This averages out to 4.8 yards per carry, which is impressive for any back at this level. He had also reached the end zone twice and caught 11 passes over the three and a half games he played.
At this pace, Cook would have been projected for approximately 1,400 rushing yards, with eight touchdowns to boot. This would have placed him above rookie rushing leader Kareem Hunt who finished with 1,327 yards rushing. Obviously, this is all speculation in the hopes that he could have maintained his great pace. Still, these projected statistics are something to be excited about.
Minnesota Vikings Fans Should Be Excited About the Return of Dalvin Cook
Cook left Florida State as their all-time leading rusher after only three seasons. He showed the talent throughout his college career that made him the number one running back in his draft class to some analysts. For reasons outside of football, he managed to slip out of the first round. To Minnesota’s delight, he was still on the board for their pick in round two. Many analysts thought Cook was set to be the steal of the draft given where he was taken. For the first few weeks of the NFL season, he looked to be just that.
Cook underwent reconstructive surgery on his knee, and by all reports is recovering very well. While Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon were more than steady in Cook’s absence, Cook is still likely to be the day one starter. McKinnon is looking to enter free agency this offseason. While the door is open for McKinnon to return to the Vikings, it has been reported that he is looking for a larger role elsewhere.
Murray is slated to be in Minnesota for another two seasons on his current contract. The former Pro Bowler showed that he can be more than useful in the Vikings offense. He will likely be used as a pass catcher out of the backfield. While only catching 15 passes in 2017, his role in the passing game was huge with the Oakland Raiders. Pass catching is one of Cook’s only noticeable weaknesses and is something he can work to build upon. He should see a majority of the workload in 2018, with Murray being used to changing up the pace of play.
The last Vikings running back to return from an ACL tear was Adrian Peterson. He went on to win the NFL MVP that season, rushing for 2,097 yards. While nobody is expecting those numbers from Cook, it is promising to know running backs can achieve great success following this specific injury. ACL tears used to be a figurative “death sentence” for running backs. As medicine has progressed, full recovery from this surgery seems to be more common. From what has been shown of Cook’s rehab thus far, everything is moving in the right direction for a triumphant return.
Look for Cook to make an immediate impact for the Vikings when he returns this fall.