Last season for the Buffalo Bills, there was plenty of frustration about the team’s rushing attack that featured Devin Singletary (2019 third-round pick) and Zack Moss (2020 third-round pick). Fans, media, analysts, and even the coaching staff mentioned some displeasure about the effectiveness and results of the tandem. The issues were lack of speed to the outside, vision, impact in the passing game, and an overall “having to game plan” or not notice the two backs on a week-to-week basis.
In 2021, Singletary averaged 4.6 yards per carry and Moss put up a meager 3.6 YPC while also battling injuries and inconsistent play. To be fair, Motor played better down the stretch and showed why he was a third-round selection and why he should be in the conversation for the team’s trusted “bell-cow” option moving forward. Singletary was also tenth-worst in Average Time Behind the Line of Scrimmage (Next Gen stats) and 15th in Rush Yards over Expected, so there’s much to be desired. The RBs alone aren’t solely to blame for all the struggles in the rushing attack. While the unit added players like offensive linemen Roger Saffold, David Quessenberry, a re-signed Ryan Bates, and one of the NFL’s best offensive line coaches in Aaron Kromer, you can see why there’s much optimism heading into the 2022 season.
General manager Brandon Beane echoed during the offseason that he wanted to “take the pressure” away from star quarterback Josh Allen, so with the 63rd pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, the Bills selected the electric playmaking running back from the University of Georgia, James Cook, who was fresh off a national championship. Now I’m not here to tell you that Cook will be a household name the likes of Derrick Henry, Johnathan Taylor, or Alvin Kamara, but it’s not far-fetched to say that Cook might be the team’s best bet to having an impact player at the position. WHERE YOU GET DRAFTED MATTERS!
When watching tape on Cook, it’s real easy to see his 4.42 speed (ranked eighth among RBs at the combine) or how he can split out wide and effectively stack LB/S vertically with his route-running while finishing off plays with soft hands as he crosses the end zone of opposing defenses. What he lacks in quickness and average vision is made up for in other areas of his game. In my opinion, what Cook brings to the table is the ability to get outside with speed in a zone rushing attack. He also has the necessary next gear when reaching the second and third levels of the defense.
Early reports from training camp mention that Cook thrived in the passing game and was placed in multiple formation packages by new offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey.
I believe that the sky’s the limit for the rookie RB. As people, we get excited about early morning coffee, wings with blue cheese, and Josh Allen in a visor with shorts, so seeing Cook add stress to defenses this season should be high on our radar. Simply put, the Bills may have a future star on their hands at RB. Look to hear his name being called early and often this year, where he should bring an element to the offense that was missing the last few seasons.