2022 NFL Draft follow-up: Live blog and pick-by-pick analysis
After failing to sign JD McKissic in free agency, the Bills sniffed running back prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft. After opting not to step back in the first round, the Bills landed a dynamic asset in Georgia running back James Cook in the second round.
The Bills did not stay at their original No. 57 selection to take Cook. Instead, they fell twice, once with the Buccaneers and then with the Bengals. They eventually called the pick to take Cook at No. 63. The Bills added two sixth-round picks, numbers 180 and 209, and now have four selections in that round.
Provisional notes: Sheil Kapadia weighs in on the choices
Big board best available: Who is left of Dane Brugler’s Top 300?
Classification of the large painting: Cook ranked No. 119 on Dane Brugler’s big board. He was only the fifth-ranked running back, behind Isaiah Spiller (Texas A&M) and Tyler Allgeier (BYU). The team could also have chosen from a number of areas of need at linebacker (Chad Muma, No. 44), interior offensive line (Dylan Parham, No. 72) or safety (Nick Cross, No. ° 84).
Introduction: A four-star recruit out of high school, Cook was the 3rd all-rounder in the 2018 recruiting class and the 8th recruit from Florida State. He is also the younger brother of Vikings star running back Dalvin Cook.
Cook was a very productive pass-thru in Georgia’s loaded backfield, also featuring Zamir White. In his last two college seasons, Cook caught 43 passes and a dynamic average of 11.8 yards per reception. He also led the Bulldogs in all-around yards with 1,012, despite just 113 rushing attempts. Cook had a highly productive four-year career with Georgia before starting with a 4.42 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine.
How it fits: Cook enters the equation and immediately adds something the Bills lacked. Although Devin Singletary will likely remain the primary running back in 2022, Cook can get into the game on obvious passes and provide the Bills with a home run threat that none of their other backs possess. The Bills could also play Singletary and Cook at the same time, with Cook lining up wide and in the slot.
As Singletary enters the final year of his contract, the Bills could attempt to make Cook a three-way asset for 2023 and beyond. Either way, the Bills found a perfect replacement for what they thought they were getting in McKissic before he opted to re-sign with Washington.
Second guess? With other running backs of the same rating available, the Bills could have seen if they could have waited for Cook until the third round. They missed Muma, who found himself early in the third round and could have been a long-term starter in the Bills’ scheme if the team was unable to re-sign Tremaine Edmunds. A versatile interior offensive lineman with starting potential could also have been the game, given their depth is lackluster beyond starters Mitch Morse, Rodger Saffold and Ryan Bates.
Rookie Impact: The Bills know exactly what they’re getting with Cook and his pass-catching ability. The Bills will no longer have to rely on Singletary as a backstop. When the Bills were at their best on offense late last year, Singletary was the only one they trusted in the role, and he played nearly 100% of the snaps. That will likely change with Cook in the photo.
Impact of the depth map: Cook comes in and instantly becomes the favorite to be the No. 2 running back behind Singletary. Third-year Zack Moss was a big disappointment in 2021, forcing the Bills to make him a healthy scratch a few weeks and then just an emergency glass-breaking player in the playoffs. Cook likely jeopardizes Duke Johnson’s hold on a 53-man roster.
Quick assessment: Other than signing slots catcher Jamison Crowder to a one-year deal, the Bills hadn’t added anything notable to their stellar offense this offseason. That changes with Cook, the most dynamic passer remaining in the draft. While they could have picked a different position, it’s hard to argue the pick based on how the Bills are performing offensively. Cook is a great player-to-team fit who should make an impact in his first season. Bills should be thrilled with this selection.
(Photo: Jeffrey Vest/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)