While Leonard Fournette continues to draw heavy Heisman Trophy discussion with a weekly 200-yard average, he's not the only running back carrying the primary offensive burden for a top-10 team. Florida State's Dalvin Cook has been spectacular as well. He's been the most reliable option to move the chains in some of the Seminoles' closest games of the season.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney made his pick when he was asked to compare the two rushers.
Swinney, as much as anything, is on the ACC stump with this comment. Coaches promote their conferences at times, not just their teams. But he might not be far off when it comes to NFL projections for the pair.
Though Fournette has rushed for significantly more yardage (1,202 to 955), Cook actually averages more yards per carry (8.7 to 8.0). As both are true sophomores, neither is eligible for the 2016 NFL Draft. Cook has drawn high praise from NFL scouts as a future prospect, though the expectations for Fournette are on their own level. But college stardom doesn't always translate to the NFL draft especially well, and Cook's standing with pro scouts might be closer to Fournette than anyone realizes.
NFL Media analyst Lance Zierlein said he believes Cook could be valued just as highly, whenever the two decide to make themselves available to the pros.
"It's a matter of what you're looking for. Fournette is a straight-line runner with long speed, but he won't create as much for you as Cook. If you want a downhill guy in a power scheme, Fournette is your guy," Zierlein said. "If you're looking for more of a guy who can fit into any scheme, create yards, Cook is more elusive with better burst. I think it makes him an every-down back. Cook is like a bigger Devonta Freeman, and he's as legitimate as anyone if his size checks out. Cook will be more intriguing to more teams, but Fournette will be more valued by some teams."
Cook, the smaller of the two by some 30 pounds, will one day have a strong opportunity to equalize the buzz factor at the NFL Scouting Combine, where smaller players often score better in testing of traits like agility and speed.