Buffalo Bills trade down and select running back James Cook for more offensive firepower

Sal Maiorana
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

ORCHARD PARK - While Josh Allen was at the Buffalo Sabres season finale Friday night with a bunch of his Buffalo Bills teammates including first-round draft pick Kaiir Elam, Brandon Beane was getting him another offensive weapon.

Beane traded down twice in the second round, from No. 57 to No. 60 and then to No. 63 when he finally picked Georgia running back James Cook, the younger brother of Minnesota Vikings star running back Dalvin Cook.

Cook is a 5-foot-11, 199-pounder who ran a 4.42 at the Scouting Combine. Though he started only four of the 50 games he appeared in at Georgia, Cook averaged 6.5 yards per rushing attempt and caught 67 passes for 730 yards with 20 total touchdowns.

“I’m versatile, you know,” Cook said. “I can separate myself in the backfield and line up out wide and make the deep threats. And take the deep shots and go deep and score touchdowns. That’s what they’re getting in me - a touchdown maker.”

And Beane certainly took notice of this watching film, and watching him play live twice last season.

“We feel like he’s kind of a wide receiver in his own way,” Beane said. “Obviously we didn’t get (J.D.) McKissick through that scenario in free agency and this was a guy that really stood out to us with the ball in his hands. You can split him out, he can run routes similar to a receiver, obviously he’s a good guy to hand the ball to in the backfield. 

“He’ll have to learn a little more about the pro game protection wise. He knows football obviously, his brother Dalvin, and he’s football smart. That’ll probably be the biggest hurdle that I see for him playing at this level, when he’s not out (in a pattern), being able to protect if we got to max up the protections.”

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After the trade the Bills made in the first round Thursday night which cost them their fourth-round pick, Beane said he’d love to find a way to get that back on Friday.

He didn’t recoup the fourth-rounder, but the two trades netted him two sixth-rounders meaning he now has four picks in that round Saturday in addition to one in the fifth and one in the seventh.

And who knows, maybe he can pair a few of those to get back into the fourth round.

“You never know how it’s going to play out,” he said. “I’m not saying we won’t select all four of those (in the sixth) but probably not great odds that we use all four.”

Just as it happened in the first round, wide receivers came flying off the board in the second as seven were chosen before the Bills took Cook.

Orange Bowl: Georgia running back James Cook scores a touchdown against Michigan during the fourth quarter. Georgia won the game, 34-11.

Green Bay traded up to take North Dakota State’s Christian Watson at No. 34, and back to back at 43 and 44, the Giants selected Kentucky’s Wan’Dale Robinson and Houston grabbed Alabama’s John Metchie.

The Patriots made a trade with Kansas City so they could pick Baylor’s Tyquan Thornton, a player that was considered by some draft analysts as a fifth-round talent, but who has blazing 4.28 speed. 

The Steelers took Georgia’s George Pickens at 51, the Colts took Alec Pierce of Cincinnati at 53, and then the Chiefs might have broken the Bills’ heart by taking Skyy Moore at 54.

If Beane had any hopes of finding value at that position, they were quickly dashed. When asked if the run affected his board, he said it didn’t because he had his eye on Cook all along and only two running backs were gone, so Cook dropped into the Bills lap.

The Jets - who appear to be having a franchise-altering draft - took the player many people thought Buffalo would pick at some point, Iowa State’s Breece Hall at 36. Michigan State’s Kenneth Walker then went 41st to Seattle.

“I ain’t gonna lie, during this whole draft process, I fell in love with the Bills,” Cook said. “I really wanted to play with Josh Allen. That’s a good fit for me. He’s a great quarterback coming up in the league, he’s a franchise quarterback. So I’m just looking to build, get in the building, and get ready to work.”

Interestingly, Cook revealed that he has been working out in Florida with the man whose job he’ll be trying to take, Devin Singletary.

“Oh, me and Motor work out,” Cook said. “We work out together in the offseason, the whole offseason. Me and Motor are a one-two punch. We’re going to shock the world. We’re going to try to compete for a Super Bowl and win it.”

One game he’s already looking forward to is when Dalvin’s Vikings come to Buffalo this year. the Bills at Highmark Stadium. “They got to mic me up,” he said with a smile.

Sal Maiorana can be reached at maiorana@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @salmaiorana. 

Complete Bills Draft Coverage

Draft tracker: Round-by-round selections and analysis

Round 1: Bills trade up to take Florida cornerback Kaiir Elam to fill biggest need

Kaiir Elam: 3 things to know about Bills No. 23 overall pick 

Round 2: Bills trade down and select RB James Cook for more offensive firepower

James Cook: 3 things to know about Buffalo Bills second-round pick 

Round 3: Bills address linebacker depth in third round with Baylor's Terrel Bernard