Latavius Murray believes he should be the starting running back for the Minnesota Vikings in 2017 over Dalvin Cook, but wanting something doesn’t make it true.
According to Matt Vensel of the Star Tribune, Murray figures to be Minnesota’s short-yardage, goal-line specialist this season, while rookie Dalvin Cook figures to get more overall carries and will likely start.
“Latavius Murray, who signed a three-year deal worth $15 million with the Vikings this offseason, might not lead the team in carries this year, not after they traded up in the second round of April’s draft to select speedy Florida State running back Dalvin Cook. But even if Murray is technically a backup, he figures to assume a critical role for the Vikings offense.”
Vensel goes on to detail how the Vikings struggled in short-yardage situations last year. He notes that the 6-foot-3, 230-pound Murray’s “straight-ahead running style and respectable speed will at the very least make him a major upgrade over both Asiata and the 2016 version of Peterson, who ran tentatively before suffering his major knee injury.”
He concludes by writing, “Murray, if fully recovered from March ankle surgery, will likely play plenty of important snaps this season, even if Cook ends up getting the most carries.”
Really, it’s hard to argue against Cook should get the bulk of the carries. He’s a workhorse back who has the power to punch through even the smallest cracks while featuring the breakaway speed to take it to the house on any given play. Throw in Cook’s ability to catch the ball and you have a complete player who should be starting.
Murray is a good back. But he’s not great. His 4.2 yards-per-carry average is nothing to write home about, and since taking on a full-time role with Oakland in 2015 that average dipped to just four yards per carry.
Even comparing the two running backs at the collegiate level, Cook comes out on top. He was a workhorse for Florida State (687 carries in three years) and still managed to average 6.5 yards per carry. Murray, on the other hand, was never the featured back at UCF (453 carries in four years) and averaged 5.4 yards per carry.
Cook has the home-run ability that sparks an offense. He should be starting, all things being equal with both players being healthy.
Throw in the fact that Murray has been out rehabbing his surgically repaired ankle since offseason workouts began and it’s clear Cook has the upper hand heading into camp.