We did it.
Remember all of the feels when Murray posted that 1800 yard season. Get ready for that. And more.
We've just taken a step in significantly reproducing the offensive firepower that we sustained in 2014. I'd argue however, we're in a better position now. By drafting the best running back in this year's draft, arguably the best running back since Adrian Peterson, and a top 3 player talent-wise among this year's rookie pool, we've solidified our running game to operate at high power for the next five years, or more.
Now, what exactly are we getting?
By now you've probably heard a ton of breakdowns on this kid, given that he's been a rumored pick for a few weeks. So recapping the information out there: Zeke brings all three facets of a running back's job to the table at a very high level. He is arguably the most complete running back to come out in the draft in recent memory as he can run, catch and block at very high levels.
When looking for Zeke's running ability and patience, look no further than the breakaway run he had against Virginia Tech last season. Against an eight man box, Zeke shows both patience for the pulling guard to form a hole, and burst as he's able to navigate the bodies to fly into the open field.
Below is a still image just before the ball is snapped. You can see the mistake that VT made by putting six guys on the line of scrimmage. Because of this, if Zeke is able to get to the second level, he has less defenders to beat in the open field.
After allowing his right tackle to make his way around to stuff the linebacker, Zeke does a slight cut to the outside, setting up the linebacker on the second level, putting him on the wrong side of the offensive lineman. By using this slight move, Zeke is able to perfectly set up the play to allow him an open lane. From there, he's able to show the necessary finishing speed to finish the play in the end zone.
This is a skill that not all running backs possess. When your back can do this, your linebackers have to pay much more attention to screens, underneath and flat passes. Zeke is a natural hands catcher and displays soft hands on flat and wheel routes. His ability to safely determine when to stay in to block, or provide an underneath drop-off for the quarterback, cannot be understated.
I would argue this is the second most important trait for a running back to have. On this team, it may be the most important (kidding). This is an area were Elliott truly separates himself not only from other prospects in this class, but from prospects over the last handful of classes.
We're not just talking about his ability to sit down on free rushers, but also his willingness to chip the defensive lineman on his swings to the flat or routes up the gut. One of the things you notice about Zeke is the ferocity with which he chips defenders at the line. He takes his blocking skills seriously and you can see that below as he plunges directly into the defensive end and the outside linebacker. With this chip, Zeke is able to take out two defensive lineman, allowing his quarterback more time to make the downfield throw.
Some of the best runs DeMarco Murray gave us two years ago were his 2, 3, and 4 yard ones that should've been -1, 0, and 1 yard gains. Zeke brings this to the table and then some. His ability to gain dirty yards will bring a nice sense of nostalgia to this fan base as he's able to put us into 3rd and 3 instead of 3rd and 6, which opens up so much more of the playbook.
Zeke also has a fantastic ability to hold linebackers with his play fakes. He's great at bending over a fake ball in his gut as if to hide it from view of the linebackers. Although linebackers at the next level will not catch on to this, there will be some plays where he'll be able to hold them long enough for the quarterback to get the ball out. Another underrated skill that he possesses that not all running backs do.