How can the Bills COOK with James Cook?
With the 63rd overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, the Buffalo Bills selected running back James Cook out of Georgia. Cook is the younger brother of Minnesota Vikings superstar running back Dalvin Cook. Both brothers were second-round draft picks. However, they play the position in different ways. So, how can the Bills properly use their new offensive weapon?
Measurables and College/Combine Stats
The newly acquired Bills running back is 5’11” and weighs 199 pounds. James Cook did attend the NFL combine. (His test results are shown below.)
Over the last four years at Georgia, Cook has totaled 1,503 rushing yards, a 6.5 yards per carry (YPC) average, and 14 rushing touchdowns as well. Receiving wise, Cook has 67 career receptions for 730 yards and six touchdowns. His best season came this past year as James Cook had 728 rushing yards (6.4 YPC) and seven rushing touchdowns as well as 28 receptions for 284 yards and four touchdowns.
How can the Bills deploy James Cook?
With Cook, the Buffalo Bills have a weapon in the backfield that they haven’t had since prime Shady McCoy. It’s gonna be interesting how new OC Ken Dorsey uses Cook as, since Josh Allen has been QB1, they’ve never really had a high end running back in this offense. Currently, I would say Cook is the RB2 on his depth chart behind Devin Singletary. Singletary proved in the back half of last season he is capable of holding his own in the NFL. So that brings the question. With Singletary being RB1, how will Cook see the field? I believe the Bills will treat this as a Mark Ingram-Alvin Kamara situation.
This approach would make since as Cook isn’t your typical bell cow back. (He only had 230 career rushing attempts in college.) Early in the season, I see Cook used as the 3rd down back and in the red zone. The Bills love to run 11 personnel and could use a lot of five-wide looks with Cook out on the field. Screen passes with be more heavily utilized in this offense as well. The Bills will also likely look to use more two TE sets (12 personnel) with James Cook. He isn’t the biggest back but has the ability to burst through the hole and create big plays. Last year, they ran 12 personnel about 8% of the time. With O.J. Howard in the fold, the Bills will likely increase that number.
Why do they need Cook?
The need for James Cook is pretty simple, Josh Allen can’t keep taking the beatings he has been taking. Bills fans love seeing Josh run but, deep inside, we all want the running backs taking more of those carries to keep Allen healthy. As big and durable as Josh is, taking all those hits over the coming years won’t sit well with him. James Cook is here to be a stress reliever for Josh Allen. His ability to hit the hole with speed and vision to catch the ball are sensational. Cook doesn’t need to be a bell cow back. He needs to be a back that can take the ball out of Allen’s hands; an outlet in both the run and pass games.
The Buffalo Bills got their guy, that’s plain and simple. Cook isn’t gonna be a full bell cow back like Derrick Henry or Jonathan Taylor. He’s most likely gonna be used like an Austin Ekeler or Alvin Kamara. The touches won’t be there right out of the gate. They will come based on his performance and/or the offensive gameplan week-to-week. But, overall, the Bills got a game-changer that they haven’t had at that position in a few years.