From the “dawg” house to the “Rams House,” the University of Georgia and the Los Angeles Rams have formed a rare, strong pipeline that has witnessed two Super Bowl runs together.
Last season, Georgia great Sony Michel helped keep the backfield running and went on to win his second career Vince Lombardi Trophy. Prior to that run, Todd Gurley was the Rams‘ feature back in Super Bowl 53 from guess where? Georgia.
Could there be another pairing in the works between Athens and the City of Angels? One latest mock draft released on Monday, March 28 is pointing that way.
Rams Draft Runner & Brother of Pro Bowler
The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue tabs James Cook from the Bulldogs to head to the Super Bowl champs at No. 104 overall as part of the publication’s “NFL Beat Writer Mock Draft.”
If anyone caught the surname, Cook is the younger sibling of Minnesota Vikings three-time Pro Bowler Dalvin Cook.
Why does Rodrigue swing toward the Rams igniting the backfield? For starters, Michel is still an unrestricted free agent on the open market. But that’s not the sole reason.
This position group was the most decimated with injuries in 2021 — from Cam Akers tearing his Achilles before training camp, Xavier Jones also sustaining the same ailment, Darrell Henderson going through three different lower body injuries (knee, hamstring and ankle) and rookie Jake Funk also placed on injured reserve for a period with his hamstring issue.
“The team won’t pay a running back outside of minimum/low cost deals, yet head coach Sean McVay has all but frothed at the mouth at the prospect of utilizing more two-back sets as he continues to develop his offense with quarterback Matthew Stafford,” Rodrigue said.
And that’s where Cook comes in.
“To me, all of this points to the Rams drafting an effective pass-catching back who will eventually take over for Henderson (if not sooner),” Rodrigue mentioned.
Cook’s Potential Fit With the Rams
The 5-foot-11, 199-pound Cook has a far different build compared to his powerful 5-foot-10, 210-pound brother in the NFC North, who will soon play for new head coach and former Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell.
Jones is more on the speed side. He’s been called a “change-of-pace” running back and one with a “slashing style” by draft expert Lance Zierlein of nfl.com. Here’s one example of the kind of runs he breaks off:
He’s also one Georgia used to motion out to find one-on-one mismatches.
Overall, Cook buries defenses with his cutting and dashing ability as a prospect who was timed at 4.42 in the 40-yard dash.
Is he an instant fit for the Rams should they gravitate toward Cook? The Athletic’s draft analyst Dane Brugler believes Cook will be in high demand before L.A. picks at No. 104 in round three.
“Once we get in the pick 80-120 range, a lot of teams are going to be looking at Cook as an intriguing option because of his versatility as a rusher/receiver,” Brugler wrote.
Still, Brugler is a believer that Cook would do damage in McVay’s system.
“But there is no doubt that Cook would be fun in the Rams offense. His ability to line up as a wide receiver and run routes or make plays from the backfield should make him an immediate contributor in that backfield rotation,” Brugler said.