2022 NFL Draft Scouting Report: James Cook

  • James Cook, 5-11/190

  • Running Back

  • Georgia

  • James Cook Scouting Report
    By Charlie Campbell

  • Fast
  • Acceleration
  • Quick first-step to hit the hole
  • Second gear in the open field
  • Threat to rip off a long touchdown on any carry
  • Instinctive runner
  • Good vision
  • Anticipation
  • Knee bend
  • Runs behind his pads
  • Elusive; has moves in the open field
  • Cutting ability
  • Quick feet
  • Receiving skills
  • Dangerous route-runner
  • Mismatch receiver
  • Soft hands
  • Catches with his hands
  • Third-down weapon
  • Decisive runner

  • Weaknesses:
  • Small
  • Lacks balance
  • Not a tough runner between the tackles
  • Will struggle to create lots of yards after contact in the NFL
  • Won’t be an asset in goal-line or short-yardage situations
  • Will need development in blitz protection
  • Frame could be maxed out
  • Can he hold up and avoid injury in the NFL?

  • Summary: At most schools, James Cook would have been the starting running back, but at Georgia, he was part of the Bulldogs rotation. Cook logged fewer than 50 carries in each of his freshman-junior seasons, with averages of 6.7, 6.1 and 6.9 yards per carry. He also totaled seven touchdowns over that time. As a senior in 2021, Cook took on a bigger role as the primary backup to Zamir White. On the year, Cook averaged 6.4 yards per carry on 113 carries for 728 yards and seven touchdowns. He also notched 27 receptions for 284 yards and four touchdowns.

    As a runner, Cook is a speed back who is real threat to rip off a big gain anytime he touches the ball. He has a first-step burst and accelerates through the hole with a second gear to explode downfield for long gains. With his explosion, it looks like Cook gets a head start over everybody else on the field. Cook is not just fast in the open field, but he has moves to dodge tacklers and tremendous change-of-direction skills. The fast back Cook is a threat to tackle any carry to the end zone.

    Cook lacks the size and strength to be a three-down starter. For the NFL, he will have to be a backup change-of-pace back. Cook’s lack of size means he won’t rack up a lot of yards after contact, and he does not have the balance, toughness, or size to get a lot of carries between the tackles. If Cook were bigger, he could be an impactful three-down starter like his older brother Dalvin Cook.

    On top of being an explosive runner, James Cook can be a weapon as a receiver. He has soft hands and is a natural at catching the ball. He is elusive in the open field and can rip off yards in chunks. Cook is too fast and shifty for linebackers or safeties to cover in man, so he provides an excellent mismatch and will be a third-down receiving problem in the NFL. Like all college backs, Cook will need some tutoring in pass protection for the pros.

    Cook looks like a potential second-day pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. He could work his way into being a dangerous contributor.

    Player Comparison: Nyheim Hines. From the skill-set perspective, Hines (5-9, 196) and Cook are very similar. Both are fast, explosive weapons who can rip off chunk gains on any touch. N.C. State used Hines more as a receiver than the Bulldogs did with Cook, but Cook flashed receiving ability. If Cook pans out in the NFL, I think he could be a back similar to Hines.


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