Mentally, I’m preparing myself for the angry crowd of “running backs don’t matter” people to fill my mention on Twitter @RussNFLDraft. That’s fine; I’ll be here to argue with you and tell you that in at least one case, you’re wrong. In Minnesota, there’s one running back that matters, and he’s proving his worth.
His name is Dalvin Cook.
Maybe you’ve heard of him or maybe you remember him being the 41st overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft. He was taken after Leonard Fournette (4th overall to the Jaguars) and Christian McCaffrey (8th overall to the Panthers). While he might not be as good as CMC is for the Panthers, the fact is that Dalvin Cook is single-handedly keeping the Minnesota Vikings afloat in the NFC North standings and in the wildcard race of the NFC.
The Vikings are two games out of a wildcard spot, but with teams such as the San Francisco 49ers and Chicago Bears in front of them, there’s reason to believe they have a shot at making it interesting. After all, the Bears are coming down to Earth and the 49ers are so littered with injuries, it’s hard to believe they’ll be competing at a high level in the next few weeks. For the Vikings, they’re starting to see better play from their rookies from the 2020 NFL Draft such as Jeff Gladney in their secondary and Ezra Cleveland on the offensive line. Meanwhile, Justin Jefferson has already been a stud with 31 receptions and the team-leading 563 receiving yards.
Despite starting the season 1-5, the Vikings have churned out two consecutive wins, one of them being against the division leader in the Green Bay Packers, the other being a putrid Detroit Lions team. During that time, Dalvin Cook has churned out 369 rushing yards on 52 carries and five touchdowns. It’s clear that Cook is rejuvenating this Vikings team and providing a huge spark to an offense that desperately needed it.
Regardless of how talented Cook is, it always feels like there are some doubters whenever he steps onto a football field. Maybe it’s the fact that he tore the ACL in his left knee when he was a rookie or that he’s missed other games in his career due to a chest injury and an adductor strain. Or it could just be the fact that he signed a five-year contract worth $63 million with the Vikings before the 2020 season even began. I’m sure that also made the “don’t pay running backs” crowd upset.
Whatever the case may be, Cook doesn’t care and he’s playing some of the best football of any running back in the NFL right now. In fact, he’s leading the NFL in rushing with 858 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns. With rushing totals like that, Cook is on pace to rush over 1,600 yards and 17 touchdowns. The biggest obstacle for him is that he needs to stay healthy. Thinking that he can, there’s no reason to believe that he can’t keep this league-leading rushing pace going. Furthermore, there’s plenty of reason to view the Vikings as a potential playoff team rising from the ashes. All they really have to do is Let. Dalvin. Cook.
32 touches, 226 yards & 4 TDs. 💪
— NFL (@NFL) November 2, 2020