Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston wanted Florida State running back Dalvin Cook, his former teammate, in Tampa Bay.
Cook, a Florida native from Miami, said he wanted to play for the Buccaneers leading up the draft.
Tampa Bay had a golden opportunity to take Cook and please legions of Bucs fans in the process – but opted not to.
Bucs QB Jameis Winston and Florida State RB Dalvin Cook – Photo by: Getty Images
The same can be said for other running back-needy teams like Jacksonville and Carolina, who took LSU running back Leonard Fournette at No. 4 and Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey at No. 8, respectively. And teams that were in even more dire straits at the position, such as Philadelphia at No. 13, Baltimore at No. 15 and Indianapolis at No. 16, all passed on Cook, too.
After Tampa Bay chose Alabama tight end O.J. Howard over Cook at No. 19 he went undrafted and fell out of the first round.
Before delving into the possible answers to that question, it should be pointed out that at no time did PewterReport.com project the Florida State runner to Tampa Bay. Cook wasn’t in any of our five Bucs’ 7-Round Mock Drafts, nor was he featured in our Bucs’ Best Bets at the running back position. To be clear, our staff liked Cook the player, but felt there was something to the reports that he hangs out with the wrong crowd because it was such a strong narrative leading up to the draft.
Usually where there is smoke there is fire, and that’s certainly the case here.
There was a story about Cook’s reputation and his draft stock possibly being sabotaged just days ago by an unfriendly “runner” in the agent-player representative community, but all 32 teams have done their own independent research on Cook and there wasn’t a team that had a first-round pick that wound up picking him on Thursday night.
One NFL scout, whose team was possibly in play for Cook, told me about Cook’s character leading up to the draft with a simple text: “He’s no angel.”
Bleacher Report’s Jason Cole tweeted out Friday morning: “According to one GM, Dalvin Cook’s rep at FSU was: Excellent when he was around the team, scary when he wasn’t.”
Legitimate character concerns were one major factor, but there was another big one as well.
TAMPA BAY MAY PASS ON SOME BIG NAMES AT 19 Based on information I gathered on Wednesday from multiple sources – unless it was a smokescreen – Tampa Bay may pass on some big names that could send shockwaves through the Bucs fan base. Some I spoke with believe that Florida State running back Dalvin Cook may not be on the board when the Bucs select at No. 19. But what happens if the talented running back with the checkered past is there when Tampa Bay is on the clock?
Don’t be surprised if the Bucs pass on Cook.
The reason? This draft is loaded with talented running backs, including Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine, Texas’ D’Onta Foreman, USF’s Marlon Mack – all of whom have made pre-draft visits to One Buccaneer Place – in addition to Toledo running back Kareem Hunt, who had a private workout with Bucs running back coach Tim Spencer at Toledo weeks ago.
Alabama TE OJ Howard – Photo by: Getty Images
Tampa Bay stuck to its draft board and definitely took the best player available in Howard, who had to be a top-10 caliber player on the Bucs’ draft board. That was the right move. The Bucs got an unexpected steal when Howard fell to No. 19 and it was actually an easy decision for general manager Jason Licht and head coach Dirk Koetter to make.
Would the Bucs have passed on Cook if Howard had been taken earlier, especially after Tennessee took cornerback Adoreé Jackson, whom Tampa Bay coveted, one spot ahead at No. 18? Yes, Licht was prepared to trade back and take another player and pass on Cook entirely.
Considering the fact that Cook fell out of the first round and there wasn’t a team that traded up from the second round to get him means that other general managers were thinking like Licht was. The big question now is how far will Cook fall in the second round?
And if he’s there at No. 50 when Tampa Bay picks again will they pass on him once more?
The guess here is – yes.
The Bucs will draft a running back on Day 2 of the draft, but it won’t be Cook.
Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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