Florida State has had a slew of talented running backs over the past 30 years, but Cook was the first to break the 1,000-yard barrier in his first season with the team. The next two seasons have only gotten better, ranking in the top 10 by breaking 1,600 yards (1,691 in 2015 ranked sixth in the FBS, 1,765 in 2016 ranked fifth), scoring 19 times as a rusher, and earning first-team All-ACC accolades each year. The speedy and shifty back was also named 2016 first-team All-American by the Associated Press and Walter Camp Foundation, among others. NFL teams will be interested in his medical checks, though, because of the hamstring issues he had throughout the 2015 season and the three shoulder surgeries he's had since high school. Cook tore his rotator cuff in high school, then tore the front part of his labrum in 2014, and the back part of the labrum in 2016. He's also had run-ins with the law, starting in high school (robbery in 2009, charges dropped; firing and possessing a weapon on school property in 2010, charges drooped) and then again in 2015, where he was charged with misdemeanor battery outside a bar (found not guilty).
Uses choppy feet and compact stride length downhill. Keeps feet under him and is able to make lateral cuts at a moment's notice. Flourished in zone, gap and power schemes at FSU. At his best running wide while setting up lead blockers. Slows flowing safeties and linebackers with hesitation steps and glances back inside. Has run-away gear around the corner he keeps tucked away for special occasions. Darting style allows him to escape defenders who show gap commitment too soon. Plus vision. Quick to flow from first to second read on outside zone plays. Greedy redzone runner with ability to cash those checks. The brighter the lights, the bigger his game. Comfortable in both one-back and two-back groupings. Rare ability to cut it all the way back across the grain. Changes direction with degree of subtlety on second level without gearing down. Not much of a dancer. Tends to get hit it up the field. Feet in constant state of motion. Despite drops, can be dangerous out of backfield.
Not always a tough inside runner. Can be early to bounce it outside rather than plant and go downhill. Needs to become more comfortable between the tackles. Excellent vision to the perimeter becomes cloudier between the b-gaps. Will duck head and finish a run prematurely rather than probing for more interior space. Not always small through the crease. Flashes ability to finish with authority but makes business decisions at times. Hips not as fluid as expected. Would benefit from use of a hearty stiff-arm. Inconsistent hands in all phases. Ball security issues with 13 career fumbles. Suffers from focus drops out of backfield. Won't square-up on blitzers and may not be reliable enough as blocker to play on third downs.
Sources Tell Us
"Fumbles and arrests are a bad combination. He's got a lot of ability but he's got on the field problems with ball security and multiple arrests off of it. You have to decide if he will be responsible with more money and more time on his hands. If you have any doubts, just wait around for another running back because there will be plenty this year." - NFC executive
Very talented runner with outstanding balance, footwork and burst. Cook lacks the power that you may find with some running backs in this year's draft, but he is a homerun hitter with a resume featuring monster games against his most highly regarded opponents. Cook creates for himself with elusiveness and speed, but his value could be diminished by injuries, character and issues in pass protection. If everything checks out, he could become a rookie of the year candidate right away.