Reason No. 1 – Alexander Mattison doesn’t quite catch the football out of the backfield like Dalvin Cook.
This is not explicitly a detriment to Mattison’s skill set. Oodles of NFL running backs have made money primarily running the football. Yet, in his college and pro career, Mattison has not been a heavy passing-target option. At least not yet.
Mattison caught 10 balls for 82 receiving yards while playing 197 offensive snaps in 2019. In other words, he caught a pass on five percent of snaps he played. Dalvin Cook caught 53 passes for 519 receiving yards on 604 offensive snaps (nine percent of snaps played resulted in a catch).
Cook offers more volume-based receiving opportunities. If the Vikings opted for Mattison in Cook’s absence, the team would have to “hope” Mattison can handle and maximize this level and of pass targets–or the Vikings would need to tweak the offense. For some context, the Vikings win-loss record in 2019 when Cook grabbed five or more receptions was 4-1. It’s unlikely the team would prefer to curtail running back receptions from its offense.
In 38 career games at Boise State, Mattison accrued 60 receptions (or 1.6 receptions per game).
Put simply, pass-catching has not been an attributable asset of Mattison’s game to date. It emphatically has been for Dalvin Cook.