At the risk of endorsing what may in fact be nothing but standard camp hype, I have to say I'm very excited about reports concerning Vikings rookie running back Dalvin Cook. How good has Cook been in Mankato? So good even the national media are taking notice (via CBSSports.com):
Walkthrough lineups had Cook, Minnesota's second-round pick out of Florida State, commanding all but a few looks as the team's starting back, and that trend continued later, when he was regularly positioned behind Bradford in full pads. In between a playful pat on his own back, Jerick McKinnon acknowledged everybody has "seen what (Cook) can do" with the ball on his hands.
But all the good talk about the rookie isn't even as impressive as Cook himself. The first-year back passes the eye test with flying colors. Every ounce of his listed 5-foot-11, 213-pound frame is rock solid, and he moves like someone a whole lot lighter. There's a lot to be proven yet, of course, but Cook at least gives the impression that Minnesota isn't even fretting Latavius Murray's absence.
Needless to say, Cook is an unbelievably important piece of the puzzle for the Vikings as they try this year to mount a more well-rounded and explosive offense. Sure, Jerick McKinnon can be a contributor too, and maybe Latavius Murray if he ever gets healthy - and certainly the offensive line is a big part of this story too (which makes Riley Reiff's ongoing physical issues that much more concerning) - but Cook is the player to really get excited about. By all accounts, Cook has the physical tools to be an explosive offensive weapon both as a runner and receiver. And apparently Cook is good at pass protection too. Wow, a running back who can catch the ball and block? Who doesn't have to come off the field in third down situations? Who actually has the versatile skill set to become a genuine weapon in a modern-day NFL offense with spread looks and shotgun and all those fancy things other teams have been doing for years while the Vikings plodded along as one of the last proponents of "old school" offense? Whose limitations don't back the offensive playcaller into a situation where he's forced to be more predictable? Amazing.
Thanks to Dalvin Cook, the term "old school ground-and-pound offense" may soon become a distant memory in Minnesota. And it's about fucking time. Welcome to 2017, Minnesota Vikings offense. Welcome to the Dalvin Cook Era.