With OTAs officially underway at TCO Performance Center, Vikings HC Kevin O’Connell has wasted no time playing around with his new toys.
What Was Said About Dalvin Cook
Per Chad Graff of The Athletic, Dalvin Cook has been lining up in WR bunch sets during OTAs. This report was followed by a tweet from Dalvin Cook, which showed a play from last year’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers where he made a clutch 3rd down catch in the 4th Quarter.
Inside The Numbers
Since 2018, Dalvin Cook has averaged roughly 43 receptions per season and 352 receiving yards, which is considered a healthy dose for most running backs. However, O’Connell may have different plans for Cook’s involvement this upcoming season.
When O’Connell was with the Rams this past season, they often involved RB Darrell Henderson in the passing game, specifically in the red zone. An aspect of the Rams’ offense that can clearly be shown by looking at Henderson’s snap alignments throughout the season.
Henderson lined up on the outside 50 times and in the slot another 46 times. Dalvin Cook comparatively lined up 22 times on the outside and 19 times in the slot, according to RotoWire.
By simply looking at those numbers, it would be safe to assume that Dalvin Cook should be expected to have a significant increase in snap alignments on the outside and in the slot. Especially if O’Connell intends to model his new offensive scheme from what he learned with Sean McVay and the Rams.
What To Expect
This is a role that Dalvin Cook certainly can succeed in. With his elite vision and elusiveness, he is already a dangerous weapon within the screen game. There is no reason that those skills will not be able to translate over to receptions in other areas of the field.
The one area that could prove to cause some trouble is Cook’s unreliable hands. He recorded five drops on 43 targets last season, according to PFF.
However, Cook’s true involvement will remain unknown until the season gets underway.
“I don’t want just to sit up here and tell y’all everything,” Cook told the media. “We’ve got Green Bay Week 1, so we’re gonna wait and see.”
Ty Chandler’s Possible Involvement
The reports and comments coming out of OTAs also give a clear insight into why the Vikings may have drafted Ty Chandler.
At the time of the pick, a lot of Vikings fans were confused as to what Chandler’s role could possibly be sitting behind both Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison. However, now that it has become clear that the Vikings intend to get the RBs involved in the passing game, Chandler has a much more defined role.
Chandler has “toughness in pass pro and legitimate downfield pass-catching ability,” according to NFL Draft Analyst Todd McShay.
This season, Chandler will likely be working in a limited role, barring any injuries. However, with Mattison in the last year of his Rookie deal and Dalvin Cook’s injury history, Chandler could be looking to significantly impact the Vikings’ offense in the coming years.
It may just be OTAs, however, all signs are pointing towards Kevin O’Connell and his staff to build a pass-heavy offensive scheme around Kirk Cousins, a stark contrast to the Mike Zimmer era which lacked offensive creativity and ingenuity.
And with weapons like Justin Jefferson, Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen, and others loitered all over the offensive depth chart, there should be no excuses for O’Connell and his staff to have a successful offense during the first year of his campaign.
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