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James Cook film study: Vision, footwork, pass-catching ability

James Cook visited the Giants on Tuesday. Is he an option for Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll on Day 2?

2022 CFP National Championship - Georgia v Alabama Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

According to Tae Crowder’s Instagram, the New York Giants hosted Georgia running back James Cook and edge defender Travon Walker for visits on Tuesday. The latter is in real consideration for the Giants with one of their top 10 selections, while the former is an interesting Day 2 running back who could possibly be the heir to Saquon Barkley.

New York has now hosted three Day 2 running backs with Alabama’s Brian Robinson, Iowa State’s Breece Hall, and Cook. They seem to be interested in the position; the Bills selected two running backs in the third round during the 2019 and 2020 drafts (Devin Singletary and Zach Moss, respectively). Does this mean the Giants will use one of their third-rounders on a running back? No, but they’re doing their due diligence.

Cook was a key member of a four-way running back room that helped the Georgia Bulldogs win the 2021 National Championship. Cook rushed for 738 yards on 113 attempts (6.4 YPC) along with seven touchdowns in his final season. That’s impressive, but he was also dangerous as a receiver; he caught 27 of 30 passes for 274 yards and four touchdowns.

He ended his four years at Georgia with 1,503 rushing yards on 230 carries (6.5 YPC) and 14 rushing touchdowns, with two fumbles. He caught 67 of 74 passes for 718 yards and six touchdowns. Cook accepted his invite to the Senior Bowl but then pulled out just before the event.

Injuries didn’t plague Cook as much as they did his fellow Bulldog running back, Zamir White. However, Cook did have off-season ankle surgery in 2019, and he missed time in 2020 with an issue with his hand. I don’t love how Cook never eclipsed 15 carries in a single game throughout his college career, but that was the fortunate situation that Georgia had with their excellent recruiting success.

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Cook isn’t as physical as his brother Dalvin, nor does is he as good in pass protection, but he’s an exciting player with big-play ability. He possesses great footwork when pressing the line of scrimmage; he’s decisive with excellent burst, sets his blocks up very well, and is a dangerous weapon as a receiver who can align in a variety of different locations.

Cook maximizes runs and baits second-level defenders into disadvantageous situations where their angles of attack towards Cook are unfavorable.

Cook’s vision, and athletic traits, combined with his three-down skill-set - especially if he improves in pass protection - are traits that will allow him to thrive at the next level. Here’s a quick video detailing some of those quality traits.