In the first year of the college football playoffs, the Ohio State Buckeyes, the fourth-ranked team, showed the world just how dynamic of a team they were. Despite the post-season ban the season before, the Buckeyes came out firing on all cylinders, beating Alabama and Oregon, #1 and #2 respectively, en route to a National Championship. One of the main reasons why was because of the play of running back Ezekiel Elliott.
“The hero in the half-shirt” Elliott was called. Standing at 6-foot, 220 pounds, Elliott has the prototypical size of a workhorse back. He also was a state winner in track when he was in high school. Elliott is coming from a pro-style offense and when you take in count his size and speed, it's easy to see why Elliott just has all the traits that scouts will covet. Let's take a look at the tape and see how Elliott projects to the NFL.
The first thing I see with Elliott is his vision. Elliott is excellent at weaving in between traffic and knowing where and when to hit the hole. He shows excellent patience. Another thing is that Elliott is excellent when he gets to the second level of the defense, seeing where the next hole will open up, as is the case by this GIF.
Elliott is such a special player that he can simply beat you in a variety of ways. Here we see how Elliott truly makes something out of nothing, picking up a gain of seven rather than getting taken down in the backfield.
Elliott does an excellent job at getting skinny through the gap. In this GIF, Elliott does an excellent job at taking the carry outside of the tackles and getting through and past the defense.
Balance is also another trait that is used to evaluate running backs and Elliott embodies that trait by staying on his feet, keeping his shoulders down, and running through arm tackles.
Because Elliott has such good speed and such good field vision, it allows him to make quick decisions on his feet. In this GIF, the hole closes, but Elliott turns quickly to find some yards upfield.
One thing I'd like to see less out of Elliott is how much he relies on his athleticism. While this is a great play, Elliott won't be able to make these types of runs with consistency in the NFL.
Spin move alert. When you watch Elliott, it's just easy to see how natural things come to him.
This is another example of Elliott just running through and/or around a defense. Again, he makes things look just so easy.
I think it's very clear when you watch the tape that Elliott is going to be a real good NFL running back. He has the look of a true workhorse back and while he may have been running behind one of the better offensive lines in the nation and running in one of the best schemes, it needs to be said that Elliott has too many traits to like for him not to be the first running back chosen.
How does Elliott fit in Dallas? Because the Cowboys are set up to have a dynamic running offense thanks to their offensive line, it makes sense to bring in a runner like Elliott. Darren McFadden played extremely well as the starter in 2015. However, with just one year left on his deal, I can't imagine the Cowboys extending him past the age of 30 years old. Because Dallas' second-round pick is so close to the end of the first round, if Elliott falls, I wouldn't be surprised if they traded up to get him.
Games watched: Virginia Tech, Michigan, Penn State, and Oregon (2014).
Next up on the docket: C.J. Prosise