In the end, the Vikings decided to avoid selecting Joe Mixon and the baggage he would have brought with him. But that doesn’t mean general manager Rick Spielman decided to pass on taking a running back with previous off-the-field issues Friday when he made his first selection of the NFL draft.
The Vikings stopped Dalvin Cook’s fall in the second round at pick No. 41 – the ninth selection of the round – because, in this case, they felt the standout from Florida State was worth the risk and the franchise did not fear the type of fallout that taking Mixon might have caused.
Spielman said he spent 45 minutes on the phone with Cook on Friday afternoon discussing the 21-year-old’s past issues with the law and just “rehashing everything.” Convinced he provided satisfactory answers, Spielman dealt the 48th pick in the second round and a fourth-round selection to Cincinnati in order to move up to make sure he got Cook. (The Bengals then used the 48th pick to take Mixon.)
“I was eager for him just to get to know the person and that’s Dalvin Cook,” Cook said when asked what message he wanted to convey to Spielman. “For him to know that if he drafted me to the Minnesota Vikings, he was getting a guy that was going to represent the organization the right way and go to war for his teammates every game and help them win football games.”
Said Spielman: “I think he has probably woken up a little bit about how important football is (to him). I truly believe that he’s on a mission coming up here and is going to be a great football player for us. And I do believe, honestly, that we do trust him and that he will do all the right things, as well, off of everything we’ve been able to research.”
Trouble in the past
The weekend of the NFL draft is always a time for optimism. Executives and coaches rave about how much the picks are going to help their teams and the new additions talk about their excitement and, often, their newfound maturity.
Then there is the reality of every situation.
Robert Klemko of Monday Morning Quarterback wrote a fantastic feature on Cook that was published last month and details Cook’s various legal issues.
The native of Miami-Dade (Fla.) was arrested and charged with robbery in 2009 at the age of 14, although those charges were dropped. He was arrested and charged with firing and possessing a weapon on school property when he was 15. Charges were either dropped or abandoned.
Cook also had three incidents with the law during his freshman year at Florida State, according to the MMQB story. The summer before his sophomore year, Cook was accused of punching a woman outside of a Tallahassee bar and was charged with assault. A jury found Cook not guilty and he returned to the team and rushed for 1,691 yards in 2015.
“I specifically asked him very pointed questions,” Spielman said of his Friday conversation with Cook. “I knew that he was sincere and honest with how he answered everything…