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Dalvin Cook meeting with Bengals

Dalvin Cook’s troubled past has the Bengals doing their due diligence on him ahead of the NFL Draft.

NCAA Football: Florida at Florida State Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

The Bengals want an upgrade at running back, so it comes as no surprise they’re meeting with Dalvin Cook ahead of the NFL Draft.

Cook is regarded as one of the top backs in a draft loaded at the position, and some think he’s the best of the bunch. The Bengals already got a chance to see Cook at his pro day, but it looks like they’ll have another meeting with him very soon.

According to Joe Reedy of the Associated Press in Tallahassee, Cook will meet with Cincinnati either Thursday or Friday.

The Florida State Seminoles superstar rushed for 1,765 yards on 288 carries (6.12 yards per carry) while catching 33 passes for 488 yards and scoring 20 times this past season. He’s FSU’s all-time leading rusher with 4,464 career yards and ranks 11th in NCAA history for rushing yards in a player’s first three seasons.

After declaring for the draft following his junior season, Cook was viewed as a first-round lock that could go somewhere inside the top 10. However, Cook hurt his stock with a poor showing the Scouting Combine. His 20-yard shuttle (4.53 seconds) and three-cone drill (7.27 seconds) were both among the three lowest performances in the combine.

A terrible SPARQ score also doesn’t bode well for Cook’s NFL outlook.

But that may be the least of Cook’s worries since he has character concerns resulting from multiple run-ins with the law in college. That includes battery charges for allegedly punching a 21-year-old woman in the face several times during an argument outside of a bar in 2015.

Cook has also been cited for mistreating dogs, and he was previously charged with criminal mischief after he, along with several teammates, were involved in an alleged bb-gun shooting that caused property damage

All of this is why the Bengals are very smart to meet with Cook personally before the draft. By all indications, Cook matured over the last two years and became a great leader this past season, enough that his past issues may be behind him enough for teams to look past them.

The Bengals have shown they’re more than willing to look past a few red flags, but even they probably won’t take Cook as high as No. 9 in this month’s draft. I do think there’s a very small chance Cook falls to the second round, but it’s more feasible that the Bengals could trade back in the first round and take Cook in the middle-to-latter picks.

The Bengals want to grab a new running back within the first three rounds, but there probably won’t be any elite backs like Cook available after pick No. 41, the team’s lone second-round selection.

Do you think the Bengals should pursue Cook?