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Buffalo Bills have two distant AP Offensive Rookie of the Year candidates

A pair of rookies have stood out early in camp

The Buffalo Bills were not a team that swept many headlines when the 2022 NFL Draft came to a close. Bills general manager Brandon Beane, however, was praised for two specific offensive skill talent picks—running back James Cook (63 overall) and wide receiver Khalil Shakir (148 overall). Offensive linemen Luke Tenuta (209 overall) is not a player likely to see the field in 2022. Neither Cook nor Shakir are AP Offensive Rookie of the Year frontrunners in 2022, but they have both drawn early buzz in training camp before the first game action of preseason has taken place. The “rookie of the year” tends to be a stats-based award. An offensive lineman has never been given the honor. The odds are not in Cook or Shakir’s favor, but the path for both certainly exists.

RB James Cook

The Bills were oft-rumored to draft a running back in the days leading up to the 2022 NFL Draft. Those rumors proved to be correct when Beane and the organization opted to select multi-faceted talent James Cook out of Georgia in the second round. Cook has wasted no time showcasing his abilities to affect multiple components of the Bills’ offense. Cook is thought of as a dynamite athlete with 4.42 40-yard dash speed and a knack for catching the football from the running back position at a high level. His slight frame in addition to a room with good depth may limit the number of touches he receives this year. However, Cook does present a very different skillset from backs Devin Singletary and Zack Moss who he continues to duke it out with in camp. Even if Cook isn’t one of the top candidates for offensive rookie of the year, don’t be surprised if he often looks like the single most dynamic player on a high-powered Bills offense as a rookie.

WR Khalil Shakir

A fifth-round pick isn’t a player considered to enter the conversation for any award too often. Shakir was a player viewed as a steal at the time for his quality hands, wonderful body control, and plus-athleticism. He’s a versatile player with inside-out potential and a quality option as a punt returner for the Bills as early as 2022. Shakir has lived up to his “steal” billing early on in camp. He still has work to do to prove he deserves consistent playing time, let alone deserving offensive rookie of the year. Getting consistent playing time at receiver with Josh Allen at the helm will at least put you in position to contribute. Shakir should still be considered a very high unlikelihood at this point barring some sort of injury at the receiver position. The future prospects of Shakir should be optimistic as a player who looks like a very early hit as a fifth rounder.