Not since 1970 have the Buffalo Bills had a player win the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. During that time the Bills have drafted several amazingly talented players, many of whom went on to the Hall of Fame. Somehow though they haven’t had a rookie come out of the gate as a superstar in a long while.
This year that changes with the drafting of James Cook. The running back is exactly what this team needs right now and his skillset and other traits fit in perfectly with Buffalo’s offensive scheme. We already know Josh Allen will win the MVP this year, but here’s why we think James Cook can win AFC Offensive Rookie of the Year.
He Knows How To use His Legs
All the rookie draft profiles on James Cook had him as a somewhat above-average running back with great hands for receiving. If you look deeper, you will see they also praised his ability to burst to the outside and make quick cuts with his feet. His broad jump backs this up with an impressive 124 inches.
His biggest detriments were that he’s not large enough to bust through or move a pile and his field vision was somewhat limited. Both issues can be fixed with good coaching and strength training and the fact that he received the “Most improved offensive player” award in 2019 shows he’s got the ability and patience to work on his game.
Negativity over his running ability aside, in his four years with the University of Georgia he averaged over six yards a carry. His splitting the backfield with Devin Singletary should give him many opportunities to continue learning and grow but most importantly open him up for the passing game.
Soft Hands Make Hard Work
Hard work for the defense that is. Cook’s biggest attraction coming out of the draft was his ability to catch as well as run. Rookie reviews all said the same thing, while he’s an average to above-average running back he’s a reliable pass catcher.
Defenses will have their work cut out for them as the rookie has a history of being a mismatch with the opposing linebackers, this will come in very handy on third downs. This was already proven as he averaged over 10 yards a catch in his career as a Bulldog.
His catching ability combined with his explosiveness and beating linebackers to the edge will create a lot of opportunities for him to take it to the house. Additionally, with Josh Allen throwing the ball, you know he’s going to have every chance in the world to show off his skills.
Cookin’ Up Something Great
James Cook’s versatility as a player will fit in well with the Bills who already have a starting running back in Devin Singletary. Josh Allen can always use another target out there and Cook will be just that.
Coming into the league with a chip on his shoulder in the shape of his older brother Dalvin, Cook has a lot to live up to. By his own admission, they’re both competitive with James saying he’s the faster one. While that remains to be seen, what is known is his abilities as a player are perfect for this pass-first offense.
Cook lining up in the backfield with Singletary is going to create headaches for the opposing teams that will allow many opportunities for him to make plays.
In addition to that, he’s joining a top-five offense with a top-five quarterback on a top-five team. Also, If the Bills’ coaching staff has proven anything, it’s their ability to cultivate and train players to their fullest potential, and Cook will be no different.
With the chance to break out as not only a running back but also a receiver I think there is a good chance he will be one of the players up for AFC Offensive Rookie of the Year and take the award home.
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