The Buffalo Bills added to their already-stacked room of offensive weapons during the 2022 NFL Draft, by selecting running back James Cook in Round 2. And if his name sounds familiar, it’s because the Georgia alum is the little brother of Minnesota Vikings’ All-Pro running back Dalvin Cook.
Cook, who’s 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds, appears to be the dual-threat running back the Bills were looking for after J.D. McKissic reneged on his deal with Buffalo and returned to the Washington Commanders.
While Devin Singletary has cemented his role as the team’s No. 1 running back, numerous NFL analysts believe Cook could make an immediate impact in Buffalo, and take over Zack Moss’ role as the No. 2 back.
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During Cook’s four-year tenure with the Bulldogs, the 22-year-old recorded 1,503 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns, along with 67 receptions for 730 yards and 6 touchdowns. Cook getting drafted by Buffalo “spells a bit of trouble for Moss, a third-round pick in 2020,” RotoWire’s staff wrote on May 2:
His struggles to date probably are part of the reason the Bills drafted a running back so high. Meanwhile, Singletary ended the 2021 season on a tear, scoring nine touchdowns over the team’s last six games (three regular season, three playoffs) while surpassing 80 rushing yards in four of them. Moss last received double-digit carries all the way back in Week 5, and he even was a healthy scratch at times. Expect Cook to start chipping in on Singletary’s workload right away, and the rookie could even leapfrog Moss in short order for the No. 2 role.
Fan Duel‘s Devon Platana also sees Cook as a threat to Moss’ job security and listed the 24-year-old running back as one of the players that will be “fighting for their job” heading into the 2022 NFL season.
After the Bills running back “failed to meet expectations in 2021… the writing could be on the wall for Moss,” Platana surmised. “Moss didn’t give fans anything to be excited about last year,” and “his job could be up for grabs over the upcoming months.”
There’s Still Hope for Moss to Turn Things Around Next Season
It’s easy to get excited about young new players, especially for a player of Cook’s caliber, but it remains unknown how he will adjust to playing in the NFL.
Bills Wire reporter Nick Wojton believes that the player likely fighting for their job after drafting Cook is not Moss, but Duke Johnson. “Cook is a pass-catching back going to the Bills via a second-round selection,” Wojton wrote. “That profiles exactly like Duke Johnson, who could be an odd-man-out with Cook’s addition.”
The Bills signed Johnson in free agency last month, and the reaction to the former Miami Dolphins running back heading to Buffalo was met with mixed reactions.
The 28-year-old running back, who joined Miami’s practice squad halfway through the 2021 NFL season, eventually appeared in five games for the Dolphins. He had two games with over 100-yard performances, and a total of 330 rushing yards, three touchdowns on 71 carries. The former third-round pick from the 2015 NFL Draft averaged 4.6 yards per carry, and as for his receiving game, Johnson added another 41 yards on four receptions.
NFL Network Analyst Says Josh Allen Now Has a ‘Treasure Trove’ of Offensive Weapons
While there will be strong competition to see which players get elevated to the active roster, having such depth is exactly what a team looking to win the Super Bowl needs.
On May 5, NFL Network’s Mike Giardi couldn’t help but gush over the “treasure trove” of offensive weapons at quarterback Josh Allen’s disposal. Giardi said that Cook will give the Bills “a boost” when it comes to yards after catch, which the team ranked “dead last” during the 2021 season.
ESPN’s Alaina Getzenberg reported, “The Bills were 32nd in yards after catch per reception last season (4.28) and in percentage of receiving yards after the catch (39.9%) while averaging the fourth-most air yards per target (8.44), putting into perspective how much the Bills were relying on Allen’s arm.”
As for wide receiver Khalil Shakir, whom the Bills drafted in Round 5, “he’ll be a weapon for the Bills sooner rather than later,” Giardi predicts.