Speedy Vikings draft pick comes with baggage.
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — As the running backs with first-round pedigrees and scandalous rap sheets plunged deeper into the second round of Friday night's NFL draft, their value surged, their suitors struck a deal and the Vikings reinforced the war room is no place for puritans.
Marching up seven rungs to No. 41 after swapping places with Cincinnati, Minnesota wisely passed on Oklahoma prospect Joe Mixon, the pariah who was videotaped punching a woman and fracturing several bones in her face three years ago.
Cincinnati used Minnesota's original pick on Mixon, whose cynical redemption tour will invite scorn everywhere he and the Bengals travel.
There was no prohibitive red dot on general manager Rick Spielman's draft board for Florida State's Dalvin Cook, whose numerous run-ins with law enforcement resulted in zero convictions but have invited plenty of scrutiny.
The Vikings seized the dynamic ball carrier they need as Adrian Peterson's long-term successor because Cook and his baggage dragged him down.
Cook averaged 6.5 yards per carry and scored 46 touchdowns in three seasons at Florida State. The Orange Bowl most valuable player bulldozed Michigan's defense for 207 total yards to punctuate a dazzling college career in which he became the Seminoles' all-time rushing leader.
Cook is fast, elusive and thrives on the big stage, which made the junior running back one of the most coveted in his class.
"Just too talented of a player not to take a swing and try to go up and get him," Spielman said.
After Cook went unclaimed in Thursday's first round, the Vikings were on the prowl.
Spielman telephoned Cook in Miami and grilled him for 45 minutes about his off-field troubles at Florida State and while he was a juvenile.
There was plenty to discuss.
Cook was charged with assault and pleaded not guilty after allegedly punching a woman outside a Tallahassee bar between his freshman and sophomore seasons. He was suspended by Florida State, went to trial and was acquitted by a jury weeks before the season started.
While Cook was a freshman, Tallahassee police had contact with him three times, according to Sports Illustrated.
He was charged in connection with a BB gun incident that left broken car windows, cited for mistreating puppies by leashing them with a heavy chain, and investigated in an assault case for an incident at his apartment in which a firearm allegedly was brandished.
As a 14-year-old, Cook was charged with robbery. A year later, he was arrested and charged with firing a weapon on school property. Charges were dropped in both cases.
"I specifically asked him very pointed questions, and I knew he was sincere and honest with how he answered everything and by the background (check) and due diligence that we did," Spielman said after the pick.
Cook was surrounded by celebrating family members Friday night when Minnesota called. Later he told reporters on a conference call that he was "truthful" with Spielman earlier in the day and vowed to fulfill the Vikings' faith in him.
"This is my life. I love football. This is my job now, and I love the game," Cook said. "I just love everything it represents. Just moving forward, I learned from everything. I'm just willing to come in and be surrounded by great people and learn from great people and just do great things."
Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes, a former Seminole, is an obvious mentor. So is rehabbing quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who grew up in Miami-Dade like Cook.
Minnesota boasts a locker room that demands accountability and does not tolerate troublemakers. Perhaps that will help keep Cook in his lane.
Spielman made a prescient football decision, but Cook is a risky pick as the heir apparent to Peterson, a superstar for a decade and potential hall of famer who tarnished the franchise with his 2014 child abuse scandal.
The 21-year-old earned the trust of Spielman and, ostensibly, owners Zygi and Mark Wilf.
Now Cook is on the clock to prove he can mature into a professional football player and responsible citizen who soon will have more money and temptations than he ever had in college.