Dalvin Cook 'willing to move forward' from past legal issues

INDIANAPOLIS -- Dalvin Cook knows he's going to face significant scrutiny from NFL teams about his legal problems dating back to high school, and he has already been questioned about it in the few 15-minute interviews he's had on the first day of the NFL combine.

The former Florida State standout said Thursday that he's fine with the questions about his character and will be completely honest with teams.

"Like I tell every team, I'm open and willing to answer every question," Cook said at the Indiana Convention Center. "I ain't hiding nothing. If they ask, I'm willing to answer.

"I'm willing to move forward to be a better person."

Cook has already met with Denver, Washington, Green Bay, San Francisco and Houston at the combine and has more scheduled Thursday and Friday. He said not every team has questioned him about his past but that it has come up "a pretty decent amount of times."

It's certain to continue to come up, both at the combine and during his pre-draft visits with teams. Cook is a likely first-round pick -- possibly even top 10 -- and with teams investing that amount of money in him, they want to be absolutely sure they know what they're getting.

Cook's legal issues date back to his time at Miami Central High School: The Orlando Sentinel reported that Cook was arrested as a juvenile and charged with robbery in 2009, though prosecutors later dropped the case. He also was arrested a year later and charged with firing a weapon and possession of a weapon at an event on school property. Those chargers were either dropped or abandoned, the newspaper reported.

Cook was charged with criminal mischief in June 2014 after he was one of several players involved in an alleged shooting with a BB gun that caused property damage. Cook was given pretrial intervention. Sports Illustrated reported that Cook also was issued a citation in July 2014 for a violation of animal care after he allegedly left three pit bull puppies chained up by the neck outside.

In July 2015, a woman accused Cook of punching her while outside of a Tallahassee bar. He was charged with misdemeanor battery and suspended indefinitely from the football team. He was found not guilty -- the jury delivered the verdict in less than 25 minutes after a daylong trial -- and immediately reinstated to the team.

Though Cook has no convictions on his record, the multiple charges and brushes with the law will give NFL teams pause. Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell, whose team has the fourth overall pick, said his team will research Cook thoroughly over the next two months.

"We haven't necessarily red-flagged him," Caldwell said. "We're going to spend some time with him. A lot of people speak very highly of him. We have some really good, obviously, Florida State connections [with linebacker Telvin Smith and cornerback Jalen Ramsey]. We'll see kind of where -- I know his past issues and stuff like that -- he is now.

"We'll evaluate everybody and kind of make a decision closer to the draft as to whether or not they stay on the board or not. There's a lot more information to be had."

Cook ran for 4,464 yards and 46 touchdowns and caught 79 passes for 935 yards and two touchdowns in three seasons at FSU. He and former LSU standout Leonard Fournette are regarded as the two best running backs in the draft, though Cook said he considers himself the most complete back among the group.

"I just think my game and my tape will prove that," Cook said. "I just think moving forward I can prove that myself."

ESPN draft analysts Mel Kiper and Todd McShay have Cook being selected 17th by Washington and 15th by Indianapolis, respectively, in their latest mock drafts. Cook said he wouldn't mind dropping a little lower so he could again play with former FSU quarterback Jameis Winston.

"A dream come true," Cook said of potentially landing with the Bucs at No. 19. "The games and the experiences that we had -- it was something that I will always remember. He's one of those quarterbacks he's going to always make sure you're doing the right thing, you're on top of it, you're being a player he knows you can be. He's just one of those leaders that you just want to be around."