The younger brother of Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook, rookie James Cook, a four-year impact ball carrier during his time within the Georgia offense, is looking to carve his own path outside of the shadows of his elder sibling. The potential stepping stool to lifting the Buffalo Bills to glory as the franchise searches for its first-ever Lombardi Trophy, the second-rounder’s ability to transfer his success from his days in Athens is paramount if Buffalo looks to showcase the NFL’s most well-rounded offensive unit.
One of the draft’s most unheralded backfield talents as we progressed through the pre-draft cycle, James Cook, alongside Zamir White, carried the offensive workload for the Bulldogs. A two-headed monster in which White served as the de facto bellcow for Smart’s offense, Cook was the lightning to White’s thunder, averaging more than six yards a carry with seven touchdowns. A versatile prospect whose game is reminiscent of his brother’s due to his outstanding contact balance and burst through crowded creases, where Cook will make his money in the NFL initially will be in the passing game, where his 27 receptions ranked fourth among all Georgia pass-catchers last fall.
In Buffalo, the running back position has seen its fair share of characters over the last handful of seasons. It’s a position overshadowed by the dual-threat ability of Josh Allen, but for the Bills to trump the elites of an overwhelmingly deep AFC come late January, diversifying their offensive portfolio remains paramount—hence Cook’s addition. As much spotlight as Allen garners in his ability to deliver the football downfield, the Bills’ offense starts with success running the rock. When the ground game is going, whether it’s Allen, Devin Singletary, or Cook this year, Buffalo forces teams to pick their poison defensively.
The NFL’s ninth-best passing offense last fall with 252.0 yards per outing, they ranked sixth (129.6 YPG) when it came to running the football, led by Singletary (870 yards) and Allen (763). With Cook, the Bills have a shoulder to lean on as an experienced back with a litany of high-profile games under his belt during his days in the SEC. And really, it shortens the leash even more on players like Zack Moss, who has underperformed since the team used a third-round pick on him in 2020.
Competition breeds success, and as much attention has been centered around the trio of Singletary, Cook, and Moss, a look at the Bills’ first preseason game showcased another talent to watch in Raheem Blackshear, a UDFA out of Virginia Tech who reached paydirt twice. A backfield that was expected to earn the services of J.D. McKissic this offseason before he ultimately re-signed with Washington, the fresh, explosive legs of Cook should be on display early and often this season.
An uber-versatile prospect whose potential impact has slid under the rug due to MVP banter surrounding Allen, the addition of first-round corner Kaiir Elam, and the play of rookie wideout Khalil Shakir in camp, it won’t take long for Cook to assert himself as a playmaker for Buffalo this fall.
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