James Cook, a former running back for the Georgia Bulldogs, was picked by the Buffalo Bills in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft. A lot of NFL fans would know the name, but mostly because James’s brother Dalvin was a really good player for the Minnesota Vikings until he became a free agent this summer.
In his first year with the Buffalo Bills, James Cook’s role was very limited in the team’s pass-heavy system, and he was listed as the team’s second-string running back behind Devin Singletary.
Even when Cook got the ball, he made some beginner mistakes right away. In Week 1 against the Rams, his first NFL touch would be a fumble loss, which would also be his last touch of the night. But as the season went on, it seemed like Cook quickly learned from his mistakes. When he was given more chances later in the season, he turned into a tool for Josh Allen.
A healthy Cook would finish the season with 687 yards, 110 touches, 3 touchdowns, and an average of 5.7 yards per run on the ground. From what we’ve seen of him in his rookie season and what’s happened during the summer and training camp, it’s possible that James Cook will have a breakout 2023 Buffalo Bills season. Elsewhere, you can discover what the fresh and bet nfl odds to bet on!
4 Reasons RB James Cook Will Breakout for the Bills
Reason Number #1: His Brilliant Receiving Ability
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In the NFL of today, there aren’t many running backs who will get many plays, let alone carries. But some running backs, like James Cook, can catch the ball behind and beyond the line of scrimmage.
Cook can catch the ball smoothly and move quickly up the field. He can also run routes like a receiver and help spread the defense out. Most of the time that he has been on the field for Georgia, he has been used as a receiver.
This is a useful skill set for a running back in the NFL, especially for a team like the Bills that relies heavily on passing. The Bills are likely to use Cook’s ability to catch passes during his second stint with the team in 2023.
Reason Number #2: Devin Singletary’s Departure to Houston Texans
In the summer, Devin Singletary became a free agent and signed with the Houston Texans. This moves Cook up the depth chart. Even though Cook and newly signed free agent Damien Harris would share some carries during the season, it wouldn’t be a big blow to Cook’s carry count. Harris is a more physical back who will likely be used in short-yardage situations, while Cook is more flexible and will likely be used in long-yardage and passing situations.
During training camp, Cook played with the first-team offense a lot more than Harris did, and he also made a lot of big plays. He showed off his speed and quickness, which he had already shown in his first year.
This should make Ken Dorsey and the other Bills coaches even more sure that they can help the offense reach its full promise. Especially in the running game, which wasn’t too bad last year if you look at the team’s overall rushing stats, but Josh Allen was almost the team’s leading rusher, which can be seen as both good and bad depending on your point of view.
Reason Number #3: Josh Allen’s Low Risk of Injury
Josh Allen, who recently turned 27 years old, has already demonstrated his potential to be a deadly dual-threat quarterback. Even though he’s still young, he still has a strong possibility of suffering a serious injury, and as quarterbacks get older, they need to modify their strategies and beat the bet on the super bowl odds in order to stay in the league.
In a press conference earlier this summer, Allen would even bring up the subject, saying, “I know it seems ridiculous, but I’m getting older. I’ll have to learn to adapt and evolve throughout my career, stated Allen.
Allen did indicate that these hits would ultimately catch up to him, but he never said that he felt like he was slowing down or anything. This would mean that the offense would make better use of running backs like Cook, relieving some of the load off of Allen’s legs.
Last year, James Cook was 1st in breakaway run rate (12.7%), 2nd in true yards per carry (5.3), and 3rd in yards per touch (6.3) 🥶🥶
He’s kind of underrated. His current ESPN ADP is 75.2. pic.twitter.com/iJesYtXwhS
— fnfantasyleeg (@fnfantasyleeg) August 28, 2023
Reason Number #4: How Effective James Cook’s Ground Games Are
James Cook only had 113 carries in his senior year at Georgia, which was a career low for him. He would play the position much more frequently, and in 2021, he would run routes for 140 different plays.
Cook averaged 6.4 yards per carry for 728 rushing yards from his 113 carries in 2021, despite the fact that few people discussed how efficient he was on the ground. Throughout his whole college career, Cook never had a carry average of less than six yards.
Cook was heavily utilized by the Bills this past season on the ground, primarily as a decoy in the shotgun formation where Allen would have to decide whether to receive the ball or pass it to Cook. When Cook did receive the ball, he displayed a rare combination of explosiveness and quickness that few other running backs possess.
Cook developed as a player all season long. Cook was initially a player who danced around and hesitated a lot whenever he received the ball, forcing him to abandon the play much sooner with little gain in yardage. However, as Cook’s touches and performance increased throughout the second half of the season, both players and coaches observed Cook becoming a greater threat.
87% of Cook’s touches were between weeks 9 and 16, during which time he ran 61 times for 360 yards or around 5.9 yards per attempt. Cook continued to be the second running back on the depth chart throughout this time, but he was still effective when given the ball, even having strong games against the New England Patriots and the Chicago Bears.
Even during games, Cook would adjust to circumstances where he would still be seen to be dancing around excessively on one play. When he had another chance, he would correct his error and just accept the yardage the defense offered him. Because of his skill set, he would be able to gain a lot more ground than the ordinary player.
James Cook, like his brother Dalvin, possesses exceptional explosiveness and quickness that makes it challenging for many defensive players to defend against him. Cook also possesses the unusual ability to shift into second gear, which makes him deadly when travelling at top speed. Even without receiving the ball in stride for a significant gain, he is capable of breaking a run for 75 yards.
Overall, Cook needs experience more than anything else, and based on what Bills supporters saw of him last season, they believe he is prepared to step into the starting role and run with it.