Last year the Dallas Cowboys went into the season with a running back trio of Darren McFadden, Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar but by mid season only one back was still on the active roster. Suffice it to say the Cowboys will once again need to take a deep look at the running back position. The best of this year’s class is Ezekiel Elliott.
School: Ohio State
Career Carries: 592
Career Yards: 3,961
Career Touchdowns: 43
First thing that should stand out to you is Elliot’s agility. He stays balanced when contacted due to his innate ability to avoid hits where the defender tries to square him up. That comes from his body control. This also comes into to play when running on zone plays where he “gets skinny”.
This means that Elliot is able to turn his body to get through some of the tightest creases without any wasted movements. Elliot also shows excellent footwork that puts him in the position to be so good at the point of attack.
Physically he is really talented. Elliott only fumbled four times as the feature back at Ohio State losing three of them.
His ball protection is a huge part of his game. Running between the tackles is no problem for the junior running back. He can withstand the punishment running in these gaps. Elliott can be physical as he runs through arm tackles. Having played in 40 games over the past three seasons his durability isn’t a question.
Zeke shows some of the best patience that I have seen in this draft class. He allows the holes to develop and Elliott also possesses the vision to find them. Seldom does he make the wrong call. It is not only exceptional at the line but also when dissecting where to attack in the second and third levels of a defense. Teams will have a hard time getting him off the field because he is an every down back. He can run, block and receive. He is good in all three phases as a running back.
This is probably the hardest part of the report. It wasn’t easy identifying where Elliott needs work. There are some red flags that came apparent when he openly criticized the coaching staff. This showed some lack of maturity but it did seem as though the play caller forgot who was in the backfield.
Elliott will need to improve his receiving and blocking abilities. He did both of these relatively well however there is room for improvement. He will need to work on technique since what he got away with in the Big Ten more times than not won’t work in the NFL. He also doesn’t have breakaway speed but he does have enough to beat bad angles.
Ezekiel Elliott is far and away the best running back in this draft class. He is the only one worthy of a first round grade. He can easily fit in with the Cowboys should he be selected. Taking over the first and second down duties that were vacated by Randle. Darren McFadden can spell him and he can still be the third down back.
Overall Grade: 89/100
(Video Credit: MegaFootballMix)