Dalvin Cook is turning heads all across the NFL.
The third-year running back is fully healthy and having a career season, currently ranking third in rushing yards (1,017) and second in yards from scrimmage (1,472).
Cook is a special back and a special person. But that's no surprise to the Vikings, who traded up to select him 41st overall in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Sports Illustrated's Kalyn Kahler recently delved into Cook's journey, the questions that surrounded him headed into draft night, and why those "red flags" didn't tell an accurate story of the man Cook is. She wrote:
He is becoming everything the Vikings knew he could be on the field while so far being everything they hoped he would be off of it. As Cook has always insisted, throughout his 2 1/2-year NFL journey: This is who he is.
Cook told Kahler that he "always felt like a misunderstood person" and that teams and scouts didn't take the opportunity to really know him.
Cook is especially close to his paternal grandmother, with whom he lived during his middle school and high school years. Betty Cook says she spoke with several NFL teams during the pre-draft process. "At one point, I was tired of hearing it because I knew him as a person, I wasn't guessing who he might be," she says. "A kid may have made some bad choices, but they grow up. They were so busy worrying about his past they couldn't see what was ahead."
As Vikings fans know, the first round of the NFL Draft came and went, and Cook remained on the board. But the following morning, he received a phone call from Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman.
Though Cook didn't know it, the next 45 minutes, spent wandering the mall with his phone pressed to his ear, determined his NFL future. Over the course of their conversation, Spielman remembers feeling a sense of maturity and sincerity coming from the other end of the line.
"That phone call was very important to put my mind at ease," Spielman told Kahler.
She again quoted Spielman, who said his "choice was very clear" when it came to pursuing Cook in the second round.
"This is my 29th year of doing this stuff. I've talked to a lot of players, and it's not always going to be perfect, but you can, I think through experience, get a sense of reading a person's character, even though it's not 100 percent," Spielman said.
Kahler's deep-dive feature also covers Cook's rookie season in Minnesota – including reuniting with Teddy Bridgewater, whom he knew growing up, and rehab of a torn ACL – as well as his connection with Vikings running backs coach Kennedy Polamalu. And then, of course, Cook's 2019 campaign that "has given the Vikings offense a new identity."
She explains that while Cook never truly gave Minnesota a second thought before moving from Miami to the Midwest to start his NFL career, the running back has embraced his new home and regularly gives back to the community.
Betty regularly texts her grandson to let him know she's proud of him. She'll send him a string of purple heart emojis. Purple for the Vikings, of course. "Dalvin doesn't do the red hearts anymore," she says.
To read Kahler's feature in its entirety, click here.
Cousins lands at No. 7 in NFL.com's QB rankings
Just like Cook is having a career year, quarterback Kirk Cousins also is putting up quite the notable numbers.
Eleven games into his second season in Purple, Cousins is 226-of-320 passing for 2,756 yards, 21 touchdowns and just three interceptions. His passer rating is a career-high 114.8.
In this week's quarterback rankings by NFL.com, Cousins landed at No. 7 overall. The ratings are put together by Ali Bhanpuri, Tom Blair, Gennaro Filice and Dan Parr, who each provide individual rankings.
Blair, Filice and Parr unanimously ranked Cousins seventh, while Bhanpuri had the Vikings QB ranked sixth. He wrote:
Cousins doesn't receive nearly as much praise when he plays well as he does flack when he fails. And that just might be his fate until he at least leads a team to a playoff win. But as someone who has skewered the QB in this space, it's only right that I take a moment to clearly state that Cousins has played his way into the MVP conversation. Now, Lamar [Jackson] and Russell [Wilson] are unquestionably the front-runners at this stage, but since Cousins reached his nadir on this list (ranked 25thfollowing a forgettable Week 4 game against Chicago), he's produced best-in-class numbers that deserve recognition:
Weeks 5-12: 6-1 record, 73.3 completion percentage, 9.1 yards per attempt, 288.7 pass yards per game, 18 TDs, 2 giveaways
The veteran signal-caller has a real shot of up-ending the narrative around him, and the top-half of this ranking, on Monday night when he faces off against Russell Wilson's Seahawks. Cousins is legitimately one impressive prime-time performance away from vaulting into the top five – something I would've thought inconceivable nearly two months ago.