A large segment of Bucs fans – many who wear garnet and gold on Saturdays – held their breath last April when the Bucs were on the draft clock. Former FSU standout and holder of virtually every rushing record in school history Dalvin Cook, was still available when the Bucs turn at the podium came up with the No. 20 overall pick.

When commissioner Roger Goodell announced the name O.J. Howard, many Seminole fans, who also share the same passion for the Buccaneers, were left disappointed.

Cook had to wait until the second round to hear his name eventually called, and according to Minnesota head coach Mike Zimmer, the Vikings got a player who has been everything they expected.

“First of all, Dalvin has been a great kid since he has been here,” Zimmer said. “He has come in here and worked hard, studied hard and prepare hard. Our expectations were really high for him and he has at least met those expectations. Every week he does something … he has great speed and acceleration. You know I think he continues to get better every week. We are extremely happy and pleased with his progress so far.”

Cook’s 95.5 yards per game is fourth in the NFL after two games, and he leads the league in runs over 20 yards (3). The talented rookie is averaging 5.6 yards per carry, and if quarterback Sam Bradford is unable to play on Sunday against the Buccaneers, expect to see a heavy dose of No. 33, after backup Case Keenum struggled last week in his start against the Steelers. The Vikings only managed 237  yards in that game and Cook only had 14 touches.

Bucs QB Jameis Winston and Florida State RB Dalvin Cook – Photo by: Getty Images

Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith thinks Cook will present an even bigger challenge than the Bears runnng back corps did last Sunday.

“No disrespect to the Bears back that we played last week, but I think he (Cook) is a different type of back,” Smith said. “He is a little bit bigger. I don’t know that he has the quicks that we faced last week, but he is a stronger running back. He runs well behind his pads. He has already had two runs of thirty yards or more. All you have to do is show that clip to the team and they have respect for him right away. He has the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. They have moved him out and put him on the outside at the number one position, similar to what we saw last week. We consider him a game wrecker. It’s interesting, the first two weeks of the season we’ve had to face two good rookies that play the running back position.”

Head coach Dirk Koetter was also very complimentary of Cook.

“He is a really good player,” Koetter said. “He can run with power, he can run with speed, he can catch the ball out of the backfield, and he has demonstrated all of that in the first two weeks of the season- really good football player.”

All-Pro defensive tackle Gerald McCoy agreed with his bosses.

“Absolutely he is a game wrecker,” McCoy said in front of his locker on Wednesday. “He destroyed New Orleans and had some big runs last week. He’s not a run-and-get-out-of-bounds guy. He’s a get an extra couple yards guy. Anybody like that, you have to bring your big boy pads with. You have to bring an extra set of pads, because it is going to be a physical day.

Gerald McCoy
Gerald McCoy – Photo by: Mark Cook/PR

“That’s the type of offense they have, a very physical offense that gets downhill in the run. Even when they stretch the ball out, he looks for the hole and gets downhill and when he gets downhill he is getting downhill in a hurry. He’s not getting downhill and avoiding contact. It’s not just that, because he can catch. He can wreck your game, just like coach said. He is a game wrecker. We have to be ready for him.”

The Bucs and most of their fans seem content with the selection of Howard over Cook. Howard was a nearly consensus Top 10 pick in most mock drafts but slipped all the way to No. 20 and the Buccaneers. The former Alabama standout also came with a squeaky clean image, something that many questioned about Cook. No one is seriously questioning the Bucs decision to take Howard over Cook, although a monster game and a Vikings win on Sunday could change that in the eyes of some fans.

As McCoy wrapped up his impromptu press conference in open locker room he smiled big when asked if Cook’s former Florida State teammate, Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston, would share some intel on his friend.

“No, not yet. He will. Jameis love the guy though, I’ll tell you that. Dalvin, just so you know, Jameis loves you, but he is probably going to tell us all your secrets buddy.”

 

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Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at [email protected]

42 COMMENTS

  1. As much as I wanted Cook, it was the right decision.

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    • Jason Licht has traded up for Ali Marpet, Roberto Aguayo, Kendell Beckwith and Kwon Alexander and suddenly the only way to have acquired a player taken 41st overall was to use the 20th pick on him? SMDH…

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  2. Goddamn. What could have been. I hate seeing Cook on the other side of the field.

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  3. I still feel if Cook made it to our 2nd pick, he would have been selected. Would I have traded up for him? Probably not. Beckwith has already been a great addition. Jury is still out on Evans. But, whats done is done. Time to repeat last week and shut down the run.

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    • Given the choice you’d rather have a 4th string safety and a traditional 2 down linebacker? Interesting decision there. Think we can send your resume to the Falcons or Panthers front office? Seems like they could use the “help.”

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      • Remember though, Dalvin would’ve been a 2nd string RB at best if he had joined us. There is NO WAY he’s better than Martin. Factor in his injury history, and we definitely made the right choice.

        It seems every year there’s a RB that breaks out and takes over the game. Then the next year…crickets (see Zeke for reference.) The guy hasn’t produced nearly what was expected after being gifted the opportunity to play despite getting into trouble for his “character issues.”

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        • Zeke has 1 bad game against arguably the best defense in the NFL and now he’s crickets. Dudes going to be a top 5 rusher by the end of the season. I would take Zeke over almost any RB in the league any day.

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      • Given the choice, I would have rather had them both and then selected Hunt in the 3rd.

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  4. We need an RB beyond Martin. I never bought the depth at the position that was being touted in the offseason, but I ABSOLUTELY agree with the howard pick. I’m on nfl replay watching the coaches film as I sit here and just seeing the formations with two and three TE sets you can see how difficult it is for defenses. And Howard doesn’t miss his blocks. I can’t wait for Martin to get back.

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  5. Still far more sad about passing on Hunt than Cook. Still very satisfied with our draft. Especially with Beckwith taking off the way he has.

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  6. Let’s judge this in the long term. I have my money on O.J. over Dalvin when all is said and done.

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    • You are right about judging this over the long term. RB’s can produce their first year but have a very short career. Not only that but OJ is a high character guy. I will put my money that we never hear about OJ Howard getting arrested but I would be willing to put my money that sooner or later Dalvin Cook gets into some kind of trouble

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      • What a jackass comment. You’re putting money on him getting into trouble/arrested based on what? A false allegation? Your money on Jameis getting into trouble/arrested too?

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        • WTF is your problem? Actually I think Jameis is as high quality character as it gets. Right up there with Peyton Manning and Roger Staubach

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        • Roots,cool it please. You’re way too defensive of any FSU alumni. We’re not arguing over the draft from 3 years ago here. Get over it.

          Dalvin Cook was originally projected a top ten draft pick, maybe higher. Then the word got around about his associations in Tallahassee, and his draft stock plunged to where he went at 41. Everybody knows that. That’s what jshu is talking about, and he made no reference to Winston.

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          • I was making a point, Naples. Jameis had more serious “baggage” attached to him coming into the draft. It was an asinine comment to “put money on Cook being in trouble and arrested” based solely on allegations. Just because they’re allegations doesn’t make them true. I love the O.J. pick. But I will take issue with someone implying Cook is some sort of low character guy when there is evidence to the contrary.

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  7. This is where I give Licht credit for the “no doubt” “easy” selection that OJ Howard supposedly was. He’s being doubted and second0-guessed for not picking up a back or a pass rushers. When you have a chance at OJ80, you take it. If you wonder about his value, get the nfl game pass and iso him on every play. Howard is special and will continue to get better as time passes. OJ80 could be a 15 year Buc.

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  8. Every coach and fans wants as many offensive stars as the team can afford to sign, and then some. No doubt Dalvin Cook is going to be a good RB in the league, for at least a few years at least.

    But we Bucs ought to be very happy with who we have now … we did very well this past offseason in adding key talent in needed areas of improvement.

    Besides, I like our running back stable now, thank you very much Jason Licht. Without Doug Martin, we still managed to put up a very respectable 117 yards and 1 TD on ground last week, which is a very good start. Our RBs (with the exception of Sims) performed rather well on an offense that otherwise did not impress much in our first game, considering the numerous short fields it was given by the defense. As Barber gains experience and carries, and when Doug Martin gets back in a few weeks, I think we’re going to be hitting on all cylinders in our ground game. Not least because our offensive line is performing better this year than last.

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    • “Numerous short fields”

      Are you sure you watched the game, Naples? Cause by your comments about the offense I don’t think you did. Bucs converted both short field turnovers into touchdowns. Two short fields. That’s it. Not numerous as you claim. If you consider getting the ball at your own 40 as a short field, after Kwon’s INT, then be mad at Dirk for running Sims on 3rd and 1 to kill the drive.

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      • I watched the game, every minute of it. Watching our offense go an entire half scoring no offensive points, just one field goal, on a tired and mediocre Chicago defense playing at home was very frustrating. Knowing that our offensive line was performing well, our running game was good, and we have a slew of excellent pass receiving targets made it even more frustrating.

        What this showed is that our problem from last season of our offense’s inability to score points is still not solved, even against a mediocre opponent playing on hoe turf. If this is what our offense is today, it’s nowhere near good enough to get to the playoffs, let alone win some games there.

        This was just one single game. Maybe it was a reflection of “rust”, or impacts from Irma blowing through. But maybe not. The defense experienced all of that too, yet came to play (scoring no. 1 in the league in fantasy defense points, and no. 1 in the league in run defense, an area of special emphasis this offseason.

        Maybe it was just an off day. Sometimes it happens. But it’s not good enough after what we did to improve the offense this offseason.

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        • I understand your concern and frustration about the offense. I had it last year too. I just think you’re projecting last years frustration onto the Bears game. Like I said in a post to you the other day, the 1st team offense only had 3 possessions in the second half. Maybe they score a TD if Sims doesn’t fumble on the 15. Maybe it’s another FG. The offense scored 23 points. Without Sims fumble it’s a very high chance they score at least 26. We can’t expect 30 every game.

          They moved the ball very well on the first two long drives in the second half. All game really. 1st team only had two 3 and outs. 8 drives total and scored on 5 of them. I’ll take 62% conversion almost every game with the way our defense is playing.

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  9. As a huuge Cook and Noles fan we HAD to take OJ in the first. I haven’t talked to anyone who thinks we should have taken Cook over OJ.

    But we could have traded up in the 2nd, but then we would have lost the Beckwith pick.

    Hindsight is 20/20.

    If I were redrafting my 1st 4 picks would look like this:

    1. OJ
    2. Hunt
    3. Godwin
    4. Eddie Jackson or Beckwith

    But, damn, I still want Cook.

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    • Hunt in the second would have been juicy.

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      • We could have had Hunt in the 3rd but we passed on him for godwin.

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        • I like Godwin, he’s shown me more than Justin Evans

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          • Good point, we could have had Godwin in the 2nd and passed on Evans also.

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  10. “The Bucs and most of their fans seem content with the selection of Howard over Cook”…

    Are you serious with this crap?

    I guess honks are gonna’ honk….

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  11. This OJ Howard or Dalvin Cook concept is complete BS. Dalvin Cook fell to the middle of the SECOND ROUND. We are not talking about a player who got snatched up immediately after Howard or was even taken in the 20’s. He was taken in the 40’s and ‘King of the Second Round’ Jason Licht only feels that it’s worth trading up for FSU kickers in Rd 2, not FSU RB’s.

    Dalvin Cook was widely known to be falling towards the draft. It didn’t take much to think if you wanted him you could have taken a top target in Rd 1 and paid a price to move up to the early part of Rd 2. I posted on the draft preview Licht should draft (Corey Davis, thinking he might be available) and package picks to move up for Cook in Rd 2 before the draft. Bottom line, Licht could have had Howard AND Cook, by packaging picks and spent the already blown 5th round pick on someone else.

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    • Newsflash!

      Minny had to use their 4th…not their 5th to move up. That’s not taking into account they didn’t have to move up as far as we would’ve.

      Seriously, the honks that are claiming that it has nothing to do with bias would be pissed that we didn’t draft Hunt in the 2nd. You know…the better back that would’ve cost us NOTHING and would’ve still allowed us to grab Godwin and Beckwith.

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      • what bias? Jason Licht? You’re out of your freaking gourd?

        Jason Licht is biased for great players who fit into the Bucs scheme.

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  12. Tiresome. It’s just tiresome to constantly second guess. But if you can’t see the positives from the players Jason Licht DID draft I don’t know what to tell you. Oh, and incidentally? The Buccaneers really do like Peyton Barber. Most fans saw him play very well last Sunday. And Quizz? Well, if you check the stats from last Sunday they were about the same as Dalvin Cook’s. Well, almost. Dalvin’s team lost and he didn’t score a TD as did Quizz.

    So just stop. Enough.

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    • If you think Cook’s career will be less than Rodgers’ based on one game, you have lost your mind Garv. Barring a double leg amputation, Cook will blow Rodgers numbers out of the water. With that said, you can’t pass on Howard. Cook WAS in strong consideration at No. 20 and most likely would have been the pick had Howard not fallen. And there were talks to move up the next day to try and get him. Imagine this offense with BOTH Cook and Howard. But it worked out the way it did. I am not complaining.

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      • It does no good to argue over stuff like this.

        Cook is a very good running back,there’s no doubt. How he will perform in the long run nobody can say (Cadillac Williams, anyone?) But there was no need to trade up to get Cook in the second round given our existing backfield, and he did not deserve a first round pick given the total package – the NFL seemed to be in agreement on the latter point. Quizz and Barber did good work last Sunday, and Martin is at top form, which means, capable of putting up big numbers. Perhaps more importantly, our offensive line seems better with the current starting crew.

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        • Thanks Naples- I was wondering when someone was going to bring up Cadillac…

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      • Not the point. I was referring to the amount of yards each got in the game. I’m just tired of the Cook lust. Just like I’m tired of hearing about how bad the Aguayo pick was. Crap, how old is this thread? Goodbye.

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    • I respect your view @garv and appreciate the positive tone about getting behind the guys we have. I just had to point out though, that Cook’s stats (12 carries for a 5.3 average) and Quiz’s stats (19 carries for a 3.5 average) were not “about the same”. Cook would be top-decile and Quizz about 3rd string territory at those averages. Cook had 1 “explosive play” as Koetter calls them, while Quiz had none. Neither did anything receiving. Quiz did make one of his short runs into the end zone. It’s obviously a small sample size of 1 game, but I just thought it important not to get too excited about Quiz’s start, and not to make equivalent comparisons between the two…hopefully he’ll improve, and the O-line has clearly a lot to do with rushing so hopefully they’ll improve in run blocking too…and maybe the Bucs were telegraphing run more because of the big lead…etc….still, Cook objectively had the better day.

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      • Actually, it’s pretty much a wash between the two running backs last Sunday. About the same total yards, one guy (Cook) had a single play that accounted for nearly half his yards (explosive plays are good) but he also had four plays for negative yards including one for minus four yards ,,, and no touchdowns. The other guy (Rodgers) had no explosive plays (> 10 yards), but he had several carries (6) between 5 and 10 yards,and only two negatative yards plays of only minus 1 yard each. And of course, he had the most important play in football – a touchdown.

        Again, call it a wash. Actually, I give the edge to Rodgers because he got a TD and Cook didn’t.

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        • Which was my point to begin with. But it’s easy to rip it based on who is the better RB in the long run. OBVIOUSLY! LOL

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  13. It’s easy to Monday morning QB the draft but the fact is this…if OJ was gone, then Cook possibly would have been the pick. There is no way anyone can intelligently justify passing on a consensus top 10 pick at number 20 for a RB with questionable injury and behavioral history. The guy is doing great so far…just 2 games into his NFL career. I’d like to see a bigger sample size before jumping to a conclusion on him just yet.

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  14. I appreciate the article Mark, but as a few have alluded above it is a false comparison to say Licht took Howard over Cook. Licht himself has proven to have a hankering for trading up in the 2nd round (he did it for Aguyao, and for Marpet). It would be more realistic, given his track record, to say Licht chose Evans and Godwin (our 3rd pick) over Cook and somebody in the 4th round (probably not a great prospect). Of course that assumes a willing trading partner, but again Licht hasn’t had trouble finding them before. A trade up of 110 draft points in round 2 would have cost something like a swap of 3rd for 4th.

    You can have your take on which set of those two guys you feel would have been better to start this year with, but the decision was never “should I take Howard or should I take Cook”…Howard was a gift sent from football karma to the 19th slot. Should Licht have taken Cook and probably 4th round fodder, or Evans and Godwin….I know which I would prefer but maybe that analysis is (as others have said) a little too early to make conclusions about.

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  15. Glad we took Howard over Cook. I think we will kick ourselves taking Godwin over Hunt. Can’t get em all right. Hindsight 20/20 and all….

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    • I disagree, I believe Godwin will be our replacement for DJax when father time finally catches up to him and will prove himself a great pick. Hunt is doing great right now but I don’t think anyone can honestly say they saw this coming during the draft. RBs also have a relatively short shelf life so time will be the judge in the end.

      That said, after the miss on McNichols we will definitely be in the market for another RB this offseason. I’ve been impressed with Barber so far but we will need another back. I don’t feel Sims has shown enough to be kept after this year, but again it is still too early to tell. I forsee Sims being relegated to 3rd down exclusively once Doug is back.

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