The Jacksonville Jaguars once again made a big splash in free agency. The addition of players such as Calais Campbell and A.J. Bouye have made the Jaguars a formidable defensive team. The area that Tom Coughlin will now have to turn his attention to during the coming weeks, is the offense. Blake Bortles and company regressed significanty last year and will look to bounce back this coming season.
Jacksonville Jaguars Should Draft Dalvin Cook
There has been much speculation about what the Jaguars will do with the fourth overall pick in the upcoming draft. Much of the emphasis has been on the Jags adding a running back to the team, in order to alliviate the pressure on Bortles. Whilst most mock drafts are suggesting that the team should take LSU back Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville may be better suited taking Florida State’s Dalvin Cook.
The Problem in Jacksonville
For the Jacksonville Jaguars, the 2016-17 season saw one dissapointment after another. The run game in particular contributed to the Jags lacklustre season. After investing in former New York Jets running back, Chris Ivory last off-season, the Jags seemed to have balanced backfield. Ivory and young back T.J. Yeldon seemed to possess to skills to help carry the Jacksonville offense.
However, the duo failed to perform for the majority of the season. Ivory, who struggled with injuries throughout the season, recorded just 439 yards on 117 carries, with just three touchdowns. The absence of Ivory forced the Jaguars to rely more havily on former second-round pick Yeldon. Despite his best attempts, Yeldon also struggled, racking up only 465 yards on 130 attempts with just a single touchdown to his name. The pair struggled mightily throughout the last campaign, both in rushing and pass protection.
The Case for Cook
During his three years at Florida State, Cook certified himself as one of the best running backs, not only in college football, but in Seminole history. Cook has set himself apart as perhaps the most complete back in the draft class. With the ability to play with both power and speed, he ticks all of the boxes. During his collegiate career, Cook took 687 carries for an incredible 4,464 yards and 46 touchdowns. Averaging 6.5 yards per carry, Cook also established himself as a receiving threat out of the backfield, hauling in 79 receptions for 935 yards.
In terms of size and skill, Cook has a near perfect combination. At 5’11” Cook has the ability to use his elusiveness and speed out of the backfield against opposing defenses. Additionally, at 213 pounds, Cook can grind through the trenches, breaking multiple tackles without losing speed or power. Compared with Jacksonville’s current backs, Cook has a more complete forte, excelling in multiple areas.
What’s more, as the Jaguars look to contend for the playoffs this coming season, Cook has proved he has the capability to perform on the biggest stage. Cook led the Seminoles to an Orange Bowl upset victory over Michigan, rushing for 145 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries, taking home the game’s MVP award in the process. As the Jaguars look to make a strong push for the playoffs, Cook’s consistency in big games could prove invaluable.
A Look at the Film
We’ll start with Cook’s record setting performance in the Orange Bowl against Michigan. Cook displays all the qualities of his game, in both receiving and rushing.
Cook shows his ability to play with both power and speed out of the backfield. The demonstration of versatility is further demonstrated by Cook’s receiving skills particularly out of the slot, which has become an important trait of modern NFL backs. Clearly, his ability to find holes for himself and make the most out of a play is why Jacksonville should take him under serious consideration.
After an impressive combine, Cook also demonstrated his speed and skill at the FSU Pro Day. During the event he also gained endorsement from Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who was selected out of Florida State with the fifth overall pick of the 2016 Draft. During his Pro Day, Cook ran an unofficial 4.43 40-yard dash, improving on his combine performance of 4.49.
Whilst there is little dispute that Fournette is the top back in this class, Cook makes it an awfully close contest. Cook’s well-rounded game, coupled with his ability to pass-protect and receive makes him an almost complete back. Whether they take him at number four remains to be seen. However, were Jacksonville to trade down to the middle of the draft, taking Cook may prove to be the better option for the Jaguars.