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Bills Rookie James Cook: His Role Now - And His Upside in 2022

Drafted out of Georgia, James Cook is a balanced player in both the run and passing attack for the Bills.

Let's talk about James Cook for a second, shall we? How will the rookie running back be utilized in the Buffalo Bills' offense come 2022? 

Cook, the Bills' second-round pick out of Georgia, hopefully will become the final element of new offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey's play design in terms of taking it to another level. Last season. Buffalo ranked sixth among teams in yards per attempt (4.8) and yards per game (129.9) while scoring 20 touchdowns. 

The missing link in the backfield was on passing downs. Devin Singletary, Buffalo's lead runner, recorded 40 catches for 228 yards. Zack Moss, the Bills' third-down runner, recorded 23 catches for 197 yards. Combined, the duo recorded just two touchdowns through the air. 

General manager Brandon Beane understands that to contend with teams such as the Cincinnati Bengals, Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers, every aspect of the backfield must be in motion. With that in mind, this offseason, the Bills initially planned to sign former Washington Commanders pass-catching tailback J.D. McKissic. 

At the last second, McKissic elected to return to Washington. This led to Beane targeting Cook.

During his time in Athens, Cook often was praised for his route-running skills and smooth hands out of the backfield. For his career, Cook averaged 11 yards per catch and scored six touchdowns. 

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The expectation early should be Cook plays a similar role to New England Patriots' James White in two-back formations. He also could used on third-down passing plays.

Singletary still should serve as Buffalo's lead back. Last season, he recorded at least 12 carries in each of the final six games. During that span, he also averaged a team-high yard 4.1 yards per attempt. 

For Cook to see reps as a rusher, he'll need to compete with Moss during training camp. Things haven't been easy for Moss, the third-rounder out of Utah as he enters his third season. When given the chance to compete with Singletary last fall, Moss regressed, averaging 3.6 yards per attempt — a near full yard lower than his rookie season. 

Of course, everything as of now is speculation. Cook still needs to prove he's ready to face NFL-level defenses. Then again, he'll have an advantage coming from the SEC as its defenses consistently produce high-level talent. 

Buffalo could elect to use all three players on Sundays with a back-by-committee approach. The most likely situation would be Singletary sees a bulk of the carries early, Moss comes in for the hard yards and Cook works in reps on passing downs. 

Cook was brought in to add yet another weapon for quarterback Josh Allen. He also proved his agility and vision while averaging 6.1 yards per carry on the way to winning a national title with Georgia in 2021. 

In the end, the Bills didn't use a second-round pick on a running back as some "future stash.'' Cook will see reps as a rookie. By midseason, he could be the team's best option in every way.