2022 NFL Draft Scouting Report: James Cookby Carter Vyas March 22, 2022 0 comments
For teams that would not like to burn an early-round pick on a running back such as Breece Hall or Kenneth Walker III, James Cook is a guy that will be on draft boards later that has serious upside. Throughout Cook’s four years at Georgia due to injury and backfield competition, he did not see large amounts of touches like some thought he’d get. Due to this, up until this year, Cook had a serious lack of production while playing for the Bulldogs which lowered his draft stock. This low draft stock may not fit Cook’s level of talent, but this may help teams find a late gem as Cook is a projected day three pick.
Coming out of high school, Cook was a four-star recruit according to the 247 Composite Rankings, holding offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, and of course Georgia. Throughout his career at Georgia he tallied 1,503 rushing yards, only really taking over a significant in his senior year. In addition, Cook is the brother of NFL star running back Dalvin Cook, hoping to follow in his footsteps.
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Name: James Cook
Jersey: No. 4
Position: Running Back
Weight: 190 lbs
Games Watched: Alabama (2022), Florida (2021), Clemson (2021)
Major Injury History: Ankle Surgery (2019)
Vision is one standout strength for Cook when he plays, as he sees all gaps and the field well. When an open hole is created he rarely misses it, and usually gets through. Despite Cook’s phenomenal vision, when watching him his lack of explosiveness creates the idea he is not running through the correct gap. Lots of times he will get swallowed up near the line of scrimmage, Cook often chooses the correct gap but cannot burst through.
Contact Balance (7/10)
For weighing only 190 lbs, Cook has great contact balance. With a superb ability to extend plays in the open field Cook shows off great contact balance. Especially after the catch, his balance is really shown, as defenders will hit him but with momentum Cook can bounce them off. When he is hit in the backfield it is a different story, Cook does not stay up when hit early in his runs. At the NFL level, Cook can put on weight and hopefully work on this part of his game.
Cook has a serious issue of not being able to explode through holes during his runs. This leads to short-lived carries that are swallowed up near the line of scrimmage consistently. Cook will run through the correct gap but just cannot get upfield quick enough. This mediocre explosiveness is made up by Cook’s long speed, where if Cook can break through holes his runs usually go a long distance.
Long Speed (8.5/10)
Maybe Cook’s strongest area is his long speed, he can break off huge runs due to his long speed at any time. Also after the catch, he can really show this speed off when he has open field to operate in. Cook broke off a massive 67 yard run against Alabama in the College Football Championship, which helped Georgia win. Cook also ran a blazing 4.42 40 yard dash at the NFL combine, proving to scouts he has elite NFL running back speed.
Short-Area Burst (5.5/10)
A similarity to Cook’s explosiveness, his short-area bursts are not often seen. Just not able to quickly get into higher gears, Cook cannot even burst at an average level. He plays more of a patient, making the defender miss style of play. Different than his short burst, Cook can pick up speed very quickly after a couple of strides moving upfield.
Change of Direction (6.5/10)
Cook has an extremely average change of direction as far as running backs go. As said before, Cook fails to explode and hit the hole, this gives him limited space to change direction. With this limited space to operate Cook can sometimes make a highlight play, but most of the time cannot make a move to get out. Although this after the catch in the open field Cook can change direction rather well and make defenders miss.
With a small frame of 190 lbs, Cook does not lean towards playing a power game. For someone with such a slim frame Cook is capable of showing flashes of power and strength, but it is a weakness of his game. When playing he can rarely break tackles using pure strength, and struggles to keep his legs churning then met with multiple defenders.
Ball Security (10/10)
Over Cook’s four-year career at the University of Georgia he never once fumbled the ball. He can take hits, have defenders attempt to punch the ball out, but still keeps it safe. In the receiving game as well, Cook is very sure-handed, only dropping balls occasionally. As an NFL general manager, you have no concerns with the ball in Cook’s hands, rushing or receiving.
Receiving Ability (8.5/10)
Cook provides great hands as a running back and has great after-the-catch upside. As he is extremely hard to tackle after the catch, resembling his brother in a sense. Like his brother, Cook is not only great after the catch, but his hands provide another dimension to his receiving game, as he can catch at all angles, something most running backs can’t do. Despite this Cook could grow his route tree to be even more of a receiving threat in the NFL.
Pass Protection (3/5)
Although having a small frame Cook is not a bad blocker, as he plants his legs strongly and can stand up pass rushers. His pass protection issues are much more due to mental lapses. Many times Cook will not identify his blocking assignment, and let the pass rusher come through untouched. When he can identify who to block, Cook can match up with rushers well for his size.
Cook is a running back that is surely NFL-ready but not a top-tier prospect. In today’s NFL backs need to be explosive which is the biggest thing Cook lacks as he gets swallowed up at the line constantly. Some aspects of Cook’s game that bring his stock up a ton are his long speed and ball security. Cook ran a 4.42 40-yard dash which showcased his big play-ability. In addition, Cook never fumbled in his collegiate career giving NFL scouts no concerns in that department. Cook could very well pair nicely with an offensive line that gives him lots of time to hit the hole but if not, he may only be a rotational piece for an NFL team.
Rookie Projections: Backup Running Back
Third Year Projections: Receiving Specialist
Final Grade (70.5/100): Fifth-Round Pick
Player Comp: Phillip Lindsay
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