The other day I turned on some of Ezekiel Elliott’s college tape just for fun. I was at work thinking about just how talented he was, and got the itch to watch him wreck. Play after play, it’s amazing to me how well he does everything.
When he runs, he runs with purpose and direction. He makes guys miss in the open field, can lower his shoulder and bulldoze his way to a first down, or can bounce an outside run to the sideline, gain the edge, and explode down the field.
When he catches, his hands are soft and natural. In my opinion, he could certainly be a serviceable slot receiver in this league. He sees the ball into his soft hands and makes routine catches look effortless.
We know all of this. If he didn’t do all these things that well, he wouldn’t have been the fourth overall pick.
Now, I have a question for you. I’m going to ask it and I don’t want you to immediately close this window or press the back button in your browser. I have reasons for my madness which I will outline for you once you get over the shock of what you’re about to read.
Would you play Zeke at fullback?
Ian, why on Earth would you ask that? This guy is electric with the ball in his hands. I absolutely agree. So to that I’ll ask you this: does the fullback have to block on every play?
Now, let’s pause right there. Potentially the best trait that Zeke possesses is his grit. This is a kid who will absolutely hammer you as a blocker. He has no problem sticking his shoulder into your gut on any play, on any down. He’s blocked on end-arounds, quarterback draws, and just simply on shotgun throws.
Side note, if you haven’t already, read Marcus Mosher’s scouting report on Zeke Elliott here. Trust me, it’s well worth the read. Spoiler alert: he talks about how great Zeke’s blocking abilities are.
So, should he be called on to block for one of our other talented running backs, I have zero doubt that he would open a nice hole for someone to burst through. Having said that, as we agreed upon earlier in this post, this is a guy you want with the ball in his hands.
Now, picture this. Your Dallas offense breaks huddle and out comes Ezekiel Elliott to Tony Romo’s right, and Alfred Morris to his left. You have Dez Bryant & Terrance Williams on the field as well. You’re the MIKE linebacker for the Eagles and you see Witten go put his hand down next to Doug Free on the right side. Zeke lines up as the fullback in the I-formation, with Morris behind him.
What do you do? The ball could be handed off to either of the running backs without a problem. If you stack the box with 8-9 guys, Romo checks to a quick pass to one of his receiving threats. If you leave 6-7 guys in the box, either running back is capable of making a solid zone read and picking up 4-5 yards on any play.
What else can you do?
Can you imagine the play action possibilities? You could fake the hand-off to Zeke and pitch it to Morris. OR, you could do it the other way around. Hell, you could do a double play action, have the linebackers bite on either of the run plays, and get them seriously out of position in their coverages.
The middle of the field could conceivably be completely wide open depending on the awareness of the linebackers and safeties.
You can also check to a fullback screen to any side of the field. Just have your quarterback take a seven step drop, and lay a pretty ball up to #21 and let him do his thing. What about checking out of the I-formation into a shotgun play? Now you have the ability to send Zeke out wide to the slot, and have Alfred Morris, a solid zone runner in his own right, as your sole running back.
The only thing you can do here is play solid defense and hope one of your guys makes a play against ours. I don’t know about y’all, but my money is on this STACKED offense.
The possibilities are endless, and that’s what this coaching staff fell in love with on April 28th. Not only does Zeke allow this offense to go back to what it does best, but he allows Jason Garrett, Scott Linehan, and our entire offensive staff to be creative and innovative.
Before being closed minded about this, ask yourself what the Ole Miss coaching staff thought when the first guy proposed a touchdown throw to Laremy Tunsil, or what New England's meeting room sounded like when their head coach thought up a formation with only four offensive lineman. Innovation doesn't always work, just ask Indianapolis and their special teams coordinator, but often times it opens up new doors.
So, having said all of this, would you consider playing Ezekiel Elliott at fullback?