The influence of Vikings running backs past and present has shaped multiple prospects at this year's NFL Combine.
Maryland product Anthony McFarland turned to the Purple present when asked to name a pro that he tries to emulate. McFarland explained that Cook's impact in college made the initial impression on him.
"One of my favorite running backs is Dalvin Cook," McFarland said. "I tried to emulate him a lot when he was at Florida State. I like Devonta Freeman. I like Christian McCaffrey. Versatile guy. I like Alvin Kamara. I just like those guys. I kind of look at their game and try to take some of the things that they do and add it to my game."
View photos from workouts at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine on Friday in Indianapolis that included running backs and offensive line.
Ohio State's J.K. Dobbins also mentioned McCaffrey but thought of another Vikings running back.
"A guy that I watched growing up was Adrian Peterson, and he's a Texas [native]," Dobbins said. "I'm not as big as him. So, but I still try to emulate his running style. He's a very tough runner and can be explosive as well. He can shake somebody, so I definitely like him. The guy I feel I try to emulate the most is Christian McCaffrey because he's built like me, maybe a little taller. But he's definitely a tough runner, and he can do anything, so I like his game a lot."
Wisconsin's Jonathan Taylor named a different back, choosing one that was unheralded out of college but flourished in the offensive scheme of current Vikings Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak.
"Growing up, my favorite running back was Arian Foster, hence the reason I [wear] 23," Taylor said. "I just think he was so smooth for his size, in and out of his cuts. That's just a guy I tried to model my game after. … I thought it was just like rhythm and poetry in my eyes."
Below are highlights from additional media sessions, on-field workouts and social media regarding running backs and offensive linemen participating in the combine this week.
AT THE MIC
Note: players that are included in this section have been listed among the top players in their position group by NFL Media analysts Daniel Jeremiah and/or Bucky Brooks, have a Vikings/local connection or have been linked to the Vikings in a mock draft by an expert or mentioned as a possibility in an interview. They are grouped by position and listed alphabetically by last name. The quotes are from sessions with multiple media members in Indianapolis.
RB J.K. Dobbins | Ohio State
Jeremiah has Dobbins as the 34th overall prospect.
42 games; 725 rushes for 4,459 yards (6.2 yards per carry) and 38 touchdowns; 71 receptions for 667 yards and five touchdowns
On his legacy at Ohio State: "I haven't really had time to just sit down and think about it because soon after the game when I was declaring [for the draft], I wanted to go start training. So I haven't had the time to sit down and think about it, but you know, a lot of guys will mention how I ran for more [career] yards than Ezekiel Elliott, Eddie George and Archie Griffin in one season. It's pretty surreal. It's definitely amazing. I'm very, very blessed. I just haven't had time to sit down and think about it."
RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire | LSU
Jeremiah has Edwards-Helaire as the 32nd overall prospect.
41 games; 370 rushes for 2,103 yards (5.7 yards per carry), 23 touchdowns; 69 receptions for 595 yards and one touchdown
On making his way up the depth chart: "I had mentors early on, especially like freshman, sophomore year. But ultimately I feel like every question was answered this year. Every week it was always something, 'Does he have breakaway speed?' And then bust an 80-yard touchdown. 'Can he make a guy miss?' Made plenty of guys miss. 'Is he going to show up [for the] 'Bama game?' Ultimately, all the questions were answered, so I feel like my resumé is all checked out."
T Mekhi Becton | Louisville
Jeremiah has Becton rated as the No. 5 overall prospect. In one of the biggest discrepancies between Jeremiah and Brooks, Becton is the fourth-best tackle in Brooks' position rankings.
34 games (33 starts); opted to skip Louisville's bowl game after the 2019 season
On why he thinks he is a franchise LT: "I feel I'm the most dominant tackle in this draft. You wouldn't go wrong picking me. … The tape shows it. It shows that I finish almost every play. It's as simple as that."
T Tristan Wirfs | Iowa
Jeremiah rated Wirfs at 13th overall but projected him to shift to guard. Brooks kept him at tackle and has him as the second-best option.
35 games (33 starts); in 2017, became first true freshman to start at a tackle position during Head Coach Kirk Ferentz's time at Iowa
On being one of two freshmen on Iowa's Leadership Council: "You know, I think it's pretty important. Growing up in a small town (Mount Vernon, Iowa), I don't want to say I was a designated leader, but being a bigger kid, guys look up to you. And coming to Iowa and being able to do that was pretty special. I've never been a rah-rah kind of guy, yelling, trying to lead people that way. It's always been more lead by example. I try my best."
C/G Lloyd Cushenberry | LSU
Brooks has Cushenberry as his top interior offensive lineman.
39 games (28 starts)
On if he thinks centers are "born not made" … and how he learned to snap: "Maybe I was born to be a center. I didn't play it in high school, so I had to teach myself how to snap and get comfortable being a vocal guy. I'm not really that vocal off the field, but on the field I'm completely different. I make a lot of the calls. I'm the main communicator, and I've gotten used to that. Now I love it. I take pride in that. … I found some videos on YouTube, and basically, I taught myself in the offseason before I enrolled. Once I got to campus, I actually stole one of the balls from the equipment room and me and my roommate (Lindsey Scott) — he was a quarterback my freshman year — would just snap. I got the rhythm, and we found it."
C/G Tyler Biadasz | Wisconsin
Brooks ranked Biadasz as the second-best option on the interior of the offensive line.
41 games (41 starts); won 2019 Rimington Trophy (nation's top center)
On playing any of the three interior OL spots: "I'm very comfortable with all three spots. … I think I have a very high football IQ. Playing center, you know what [guards] do. It's not like different combination blocks. You're not snapping a football, but … I've practiced and I've worked with tackles before. It's just as fun as working with a guard, at center.
ON THE FIELD
Sub-4.5 40s: A total of seven running backs ran the 40-yard dash in less than 4.5 seconds. Only Taylor cracked a sub-4.4 with a time of 4.39 seconds this year. Appalachian State's Darrynton Evans was second among 2020 RBs with a time of 4.41 seconds, and Louisiana-Lafayette's Raymond Calais was third with a time of 4.42 seconds. McFarland (4.44 seconds) was fourth.
Wirfs increasing worth?: Wirfs set a new combine record among offensive linemen (since 2006) with a vertical jump of 36.5 inches, which topped the mark of 36 inches by Morgan State tackle Joshua Miles last year. Wirfs also tied the broad jump record set by Kolton Miller in 2018 (10 feet, 1 inch) and had the fastest 40-yard dash of any offensive lineman (4.85 seconds) this year.
Click here to see this year's top performers in timing and testing drills.
Pro Football Network compiled official measurements in a sortable table that is available here.
According to Pro Football Network, Connecticut's Matt Peart has the longest arms (36 5/8 inches) and wingspan (86 1/2 inches) of any offensive lineman at the combine. Clemson's John Simpson and South Carolina State's Alex Taylor tied for the largest hands (11 1/4 inches). Taylor also is the tallest at 6-foot-8 3/8 inches, and Louisville's Becton is the heaviest at 364.