“Whatever team drafts him is going to be a happy camper. He is going to make an impact from day one.”- Miami Central Head Coach Roland Smith
Questioning a man’s character without personally knowing him can be a tough road to go down.
Former Florida State Seminoles running back Dalvin Cook, a legitimate candidate for the Philadelphia Eagles at pick 14. Inside The Iggles own Louis DiBiase had the privilege of chatting with one of his former coaches, Roland Smith of Miami Central High School to discuss the future NFL star. The goal was to find out who Cook truly was, both a player and as a person.
On the field, there’s no way you can deny Cook’s ability. He showcases a versatility on all three downs as an electric runner, receiver, and as an efficient pass blocker. All of that makes him a top-15 level talent. Cook finished his 2016 campaign with 1,765 yards and 19 touchdowns on the ground while recording 33 receptions for 488 yards and adding another touchdown on one of those receptions.
A chat with Cook’s former coach:
"“It may sound biased because I coached him, but I am a football junkie. I know football, and I love me some Leonard Fournette. I love me some Christian McCaffrey, but the complete back is Dalvin Cook” Smith said. He continued “and if I was on the outside and didn’t know any of them and needed a back to play from first to third down, that can run the ball on the inside and outside, who can catch and block, he is the best. (He) doesn’t have to come off the field in those type of situations.”"
As an athlete, Cooks had the ability to play at a number of positions. He even played on the defensive side of the ball, including corner and safety at Miami Central.
"“He could have played in the secondary, at corner. We played him at defensive back in high school. He played a little safety, corner, and nickel.”"
Although some believe Cook could be a handful and tough to deal with, Smith saw Cook’s drive and work ethic both on the field and in the class room at a young age. He knew it would translate over to the collegiate and pro level.
"“I never had any problems with Dalvin. (He) led both on the field and in the classroom, so I knew when he left me to go to Florida State, he was gonna do well. It didn’t take them long to realize how dedicated he was when he was a true freshman.”"
The questions about legal issues:
While at Florida State, Cook ran into some trouble with the law. There was a story about him that involved an alleged incident with a BB gun. He was cited for animal cruelty. Then, in 2014 Cook was arrested for misdemeanor battery charges after he, allegedly, punched a woman outside of a bar.
Cook was found not guilty on the latter. In fact, it was believed that the former Seminole was trying to smooth out the situation. Smith’s assessment is what the woman was claiming sounded totally out of Cook’s character and didn’t sound like something he would do.
"“I knew (about) that situation with the girl, and I knew that wasn’t Dalvin. I didn’t foresee him doing what the lady said he did, and he was exonerated for that. With me, I didn’t have any problem with him, and he did a tremendous job for me and this community.”"
As far as the other issue, Smith chalks that up to “kids being kids”.
"“I mean kids (are going to) be kids” Smith said. He continued by saying “I don’t know much about it, but some kids were (probably) messing around with some BB guns. I owned one when I was a kid.”"
As for the animal cruelty allegation, where Cook reportedly tethered three puppies with heavy chain, a piece written by FoxSports.com and FanSided’s Kelvin Hunt has an intriguing view point on the situation.
"Where I grew up it was not uncommon for young teenagers to have a litter of puppies in this manner. I honestly think Cook did not view this as animal cruelty, but was the norm in the environment where he grew up.It doesn’t excuse the situation at all, but it does add context.- Kelvin Hunt"
A side of Cook you may be unfamiliar with:
Cook’s made positive impacts off of the field as well. He’s visited children during Christmas at a Miami hospital. Take a look at one such instance.
Cook’s done a great job of staying out of trouble since the 2014 bar incident. His focus has been on becoming the best version of himself on and off of the field that he can be.
"“The same things he was doing at FSU, he was doing at high school” Smith said. “Inside (and) outside. He just got a little bigger and faster, but he was fast enough in high school, one of the fastest kids (and) one of the hardest working kids. He just loved putting in the work to get better at his craft, and he did that every year.”"
Similar backgrounds for the teacher and student:
Smith is a former 8th round pick of the Miami Dolphins in 1991. He knows what Cook is going through with the unknown and the uncertainty surrounding the 2017 NFL Draft.
"“As far as where he might go, the draft is funny. I got drafted coming out of college. You can see him going as high as this and as low as that. You hear (things), but the thing I do know is whatever team drafts him is gonna be a happy camper. He is going to make an impact from day one.”"
The Eagles have a hole to fill at the running back position. Smith could see the Eagles going after Cook if he is available at pick 14.
"“I really think he could go to Philly. I mean where y’all picking? 14? Yeah man, if he lasts that long, he could be a Philadelphia Eagle, but he shouldn’t last that long. If it was up to me, he would be a top-five pick, but I’m not the one up there picking.”"
To sum it all up:
Thursday night, we find out what color Dalvin Cook will wear in the NFL.
The consensus is that Cook is a risky investment in the first round. Former coaches, including both Roland Smith and Jimbo Fisher have had nothing but great things to say about the 21 year old.
There’s been talk about the Oklahoma Sooners‘ Joe Mixon, but the Eagles would be better off investing in the Florida State workhorse. From what we gather, the team may do just that. It’s definitely better than waiting on a later round and taking a running back there.