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NFL Scouting Combine: What we learned Thursday

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INDIANAPOLIS -- Can Dalvin Cook do for an NFL club this fall what Ezekiel Elliott did for the Dallas Cowboys as a rookie in 2016?

NFL Scouting Combine

Dates: Feb. 28-March 6
TV: NFL Network


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The former Florida State star thinks so, as long as he lands in the right situation.

"I feel like if I get put in the right system, I can do the same things that Zeke did," Cook said.

That's a bold suggestion, given that Elliott exploded for 1,631 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns in his first NFL season. It's also bold because not every NFL club, regardless of system, can block for Cook as well as the Cowboys' much-touted offensive line. Nevertheless, Cook's confidence in his potential as a rookie is unmistakable.

Equally unmistakable is the respect Cook has for the draft impact Elliott's effectiveness could have on the position as a whole. As the first running back selected with a top-five pick since the Cleveland Browns chose an eventual bust in Trent Richardson (2012), Elliott is changing minds about the draft value of an impact rusher, Cook believes.

"Zeke paved the way for us. Todd Gurley, Melvin Gordon, all those guys paved a way for us. Zeke did a great job of catching the ball out of the backfield, protecting Dak (Prescott) at quarterback, running very well behind a good offensive line, he paved the way for us," Cook said. "It was a good thing for us coming in right now."

Former LSU RB Leonard Fournette said much the same.

"(Elliott) showed he's not just a running back. He can help in the passing game, he can run, he can block, and he laid a great way for these running backs coming out now," Fournette said. "... With the running backs we have in this class, and with next year's running backs, a lot is going to change. With this running back group, a lot of these players are going to succeed in the NFL and contribute as soon as they get there."

Here are six other things we learned Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine:

2. The Mitch Trubisky Height Mystery was solved, and it was solved to the former North Carolina quarterback's liking. Scouting doubts about Trubisky's height (UNC-listed 6-foot-3, but feared to be in the 6-1 range) resonated in the weeks leading up to the combine. He came in at 6-2 1/8, quelling any concerns and earning positive remarks from the likes of Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson and San Francisco 49ers GM John Lynch.

3. Oklahoma RB Samaje Perine led all running backs in the bench press event with 30 reps of 225 pounds. That tied him for the seventh-best total at the position since 2003. ... Cook repped 225 pounds 22 times.

4. Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer made an outstanding impression on the San Francisco 49ers in an interview, according to new GM John Lynch. And Lynch wasn't shy about acknowledging his club's need for a quarterback, either.

5. Fournette's speed will be on display Friday for the 40-yard dash, but scouts will have to wait until LSU's pro day to see his strength. He said he won't participate in the bench press at the combine, but will do so at LSU on April 5.

6. What's it like to block the guy most expect to be the No. 1 pick of the draft? We asked five offensive tackles about their college encounters with Texas A&M DE Myles Garrett.

7. With Fournette and Cook commanding a lion's share of attention on running backs at the combine, Stanford's Christian McCaffrey made it known he feels as though he's not given enough respect. Merited or not, it's a perception that fuels his motivation.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.

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