Leonard Fournette and Dalvin Cook will be connected to each other for all time. Both are expected to go in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, so they will inevitably be compared against one another. Right now, there’s little debate about which back NFL teams prefer.
“I polled 20 teams in the league, it was 13 for Fournette, seven for Cook,” NFL Network analyst Charley Casserly said Tuesday on Path to the Draft. “Coming out of college, I loved Adrian Peterson. Everybody else loved him, too. Fournette does a couple things better. He keeps his pads lower, and he’s a little bit more instinctive.”
Fournette has been compared to Peterson throughout this draft process, but there’s one distinct difference between the two backs when they came out of school. Peterson has played his entire career under 220 pounds and was listed at 217 pounds at the NFL Combine in 2007. Fournette came in heavier than expected at 240 pounds, but he didn’t look a tad bit overweight. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.51 seconds while Peterson completed it in 4.4 seconds.
Fournette’s unique combination of speed and size is likely the reason he was favored by almost a 2-1 margin when compared to Cook. The Florida State back is the more accomplished receiver of the two, so he is more suited for a modern-day offense where backs catch a lot of passes, but Fournette is a flashback to yesteryear and could one day be the best power back in the game.
“This guy can run inside, he can run outside, he runs with power, he can catch the ball and make plays after the catch,” Casserly said, who also favors Fournette over Cook.
Fournette missed five games this past season, but he still gained 6.5 yards per rush, the exact average he accumulated during his spectacular sophomore season, where he rushed for 1,953 yards and 22 touchdowns. In his entire college career, he caught 41 passes for 526 yards and a touchdown.
Cook rushed for a career-high 1,765 yards and 19 touchdowns, but he also reeled in 33 catches for 448 yards and another score in 2016. In three years, Cook posted 935 receiving yards.