Dynasty Prospect Scouting Report: James Cook
James Cook, RB, Georgia
40-yard dash: 4.42 seconds
3-cone time: DNP
Short shuttle: DNP
Broad jump: 124 inches
Vertical jump: 33 inches
The brother of Dalvin Cook, James chose Georgia over Florida State, Louisville, Miami (FL) and a host of others.
An undersized back, Cook never saw significant touches in any of his 4 seasons. In 2018, he shared the backfield with standout D’Andre Swift (an eventual Round 2 pick) and junior Elijah Holyfield (a UDFA).
Cook remained buried on the depth chart in year 2, seeing only 31 attempts in 13 games. That ranked behind Swift, senior Brian Herrien (a UDFA) and freshman Zamir White (who’s now draft eligible).
Offseason ankle surgery followed. But it hasn't surfaced as an issue since.
While Swift departed for Cook's junior year, a boost in production never developed. White led the Bulldogs in carries (144), while sophomore Kenny McIntosh (now a senior) also topped Cook in carries (47 vs. 45). Cook missed 1 game with an arm injury; another due to the passing of his father.
2021 brought on an uptick in carries, but nothing close to a workhorse role. White beat Cook in carries by 47, though Cook led the backfield (and ranked 4th on the team) with 27 catches. Only 3 Bulldogs topped his 4 receiving scores.
So, the Miami native exits college never seeing more than 12 carries in a single game. He hit 10 in only 5 of 46 career games.
The Senior Bowl could have been Cook’s next stepping stone on the way to the pros. Instead, he declined an invite.
“I pulled out of the Senior Bowl because I felt like everybody had seen me play on the highest level, and I won a National Championship,” Cook said. “I played a lot of football, so I felt like I’d showcase my talent in the Combine when they expect it.”
At the Combine, Cook weighed in at 199 pounds — up considerably up from his college listing (190). He’s still destined for a part-time role in the pros. But his play style at least vibes with where the league’s trending…
Games watched: Alabama (2021), South Carolina (2021), Arkansas (2021), Colorado (2021), Charleston Southern (2021), Auburn (2020), Oklahoma St. (2019)
NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah described Cook as the “ultimate toy” for an offense. “Jet sweeps, screens, draws, split him out wide, let him run away from corners," Jeremiah said. "He's a fun weapon."
Jeremiah's colleague, Lance Zierlein, tossed out a Darrynton Evans comp. (Don't shudder...Evans had an interesting athletic/production profile before injuries ruined his time in Tennessee.)
Indeed, the tape showed Cook playing a variety of spots beyond the backfield…all with the intention of getting him the ball in space.
Isolate him on a defender, and Cook can deliver explosive plays. He also went without a drop this past season and shows up as a natural pass catcher on tape.
This was the only downfield target I saw in the 7 game sample. Beating a defender deep -- despite off coverage -- is a testament to Cook's pure speed.
On the ground, Cook’s burst is evident — especially when given a runway. Light on his feet, Cook can quickly accelerate through holes to maximize yardage.
Cook's generally regarded as one of the top big-play rookie backs. He brought his best against top competition, too, garnering 2 of his 3 best Pro Football Focus rushing grades against Alabama (2020 and 2021). Cook also busted off 10 runs of 15+ yards in 2021 -- 1 every 11 carries. For comparison, that mark slightly bests that of Breece Hall, who's widely regarded as the RB1 in this class.
As for drawbacks, Cook's size tends to limit him on inside runs where holes aren't clearly defined. And he wasn't overly effective as a tackle dodger, ranking 84th in the country in missed tackles forced per attempt (per PFF).
As with all rookie backs, we'll need to keep an eye on how Cook performs as a pass protector. There simply wasn't much of a college sample to evaluate.
Scheming touches on the edge and in space looks like the most effective way to maximize Cook's pro upside. Landing with a creative offensive mind like Miami's Mike McDaniel or Atlanta's Arthur Smith would be enticing. The clear backfield need that both teams have doesn't hurt, either.
Cook is widely expected to be a Round 3 pick in April. Most outlets have him ranked somewhere between the RB5 and the RB10 in this class.
While we can't pencil Cook in for 250-carry or even 200-carry seasons, it's ultimately his PPR potential that's exciting. Look to rookie-year Michael Carter (10.5 carries/3.9 targets per game) as a realistic goal for Cook in 2022.
We'll see about the landing spot. But longer term, Cook's electric skill set makes him a guy to get excited about.