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Dynasty Prospect Profile: Elijah Holyfield

By Matt Schauf 3:03pm EDT 3/20/19

Elijah Holyfield, RB, Georgia

Height: 5’10
Weight: 217 pounds
Age: 21.3

Combine results:

40-yard dash: 4.78 seconds (4th percentile)
Vertical: 29.5 inches (4th percentile)
Broad: 118 inches (50th percentile)

Holyfield didn’t run the 3-cone or shuttle drills at the Combine, and it doesn’t look like he did them at Georgia’s Pro Day. That’s particularly disappointing given his slow 40. But opting out of those drills suggests he wouldn’t have wowed there either.

Holyfield did, at least, crush it on the bench at the Combine. His 26 reps placed him in the 91st percentile for his position historically.

College career:

The 8th of former heavyweight champ Evander Holyfield’s 11 children saw limited work in a loaded Georgia backfield.

As a 2016 freshman, Holyfield watched 3 future NFL players -- plus fellow freshman Brian Herrien -- garner more carries. Nick Chubb and Sony Michel led the way, eating up 83.6% of the Bulldogs’ 450 RB rushing attempts. WR Isaiah McKenzie also more than tripled (19) Holyfield’s 6 carries. The entire group of RBs totaled just 31 receptions, with Michel grabbing 22 of those.

The next season found Chubb and Michel again leading the way (65.1% of RB carries). Herrien also outpaced Holyfield again: 61 attempts to 50. New guy D’Andre Swift jumped in ahead of both of them, ranking 3rd on the team with 81 rushes and leading Georgia backs in receptions (with 17).

(You’ll be fighting over Swift in next year’s rookie drafts.)

Last year finally saw Chubb and Michel get out of the way, and Holyfield leaped over Herrien to split the primary rushing load with Swift. Holyfield trailed the sophomore by just 4 attempts and matched his 6.4 yards per rush. Swift beat Holyfield, however, in rushing scores and dominated the receiving work (32-297-3).

Holyfield reached double-digit carries for the 1st time in a Week 4 win over Missouri, and then did so 6 more times. Among the 27 HBs invited to the Scouting Combine, Holyfield ranked 21st in carries per game last season. He also cracked 80 rushing yards just 4 times, with 2 career 100-yard games.

Film study:

Games watched -- Alabama (SEC title game), Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina, Texas
(Courtesy of @WhatsOnDraftNFL)

If you didn’t watch Holyfield until after seeing his brutal testing results, then you might be pleasantly surprised that he doesn’t look like a total schlub. But he also doesn’t look special.

You can see the lack of long speed relative to others at his position in plenty of instances. When he gets the edge on a play such as the example below against Kentucky, Holyfield can obviously gain yardage. But he’s not going to explode or scare defenders out of their pursuit lanes.

via Gfycat

From the games I’ve watched, Holyfield’s biggest positives appear to be: 1) solid power on his runs …

via Gfycat

via Gfycat

And 2) the vision and ability to cut back and/or bounce to the outside when the middle is plugged ...

via Gfycat

via Gfycat

The 2nd clip doesn’t include a big run, but Holyfield makes a nice play to pick up a couple of yards on a play nearly halted in the backfield.

I would have liked to see his 3-cone time, because his feet seem decently quick. But again, opting out of that and the shuttle drills suggest Holyfield didn’t expect to post good times.

Fantasy potential:

After his Pro Day failed to improve on a lackluster Scouting Combine, it’s fair to wonder whether Holyfield will get drafted at all. He’s fine as a player, but RB isn’t a good position to just be “fine” at these days.

Let’s add a bit more context to his testing: Only 5 other RBs since 2000 have posted a 40 time of 4.78 seconds or slower and a vertical of 29.5 inches or less. They are …

Kenny Hilliard (2015)
Antonio Andrews (2014)
John Clay (2011)
Yvenson Bernard (2008)
Destry Wright (2000)

If you’re unfamiliar with any of those guys, don’t feel bad.

Even if we look only at the 40 time, we find just 19 other backs who have run 4.78 or worse. Here’s that disheartening list, sorted from heaviest to lightest. (As you can see, Holyfield doesn’t even win on speed score.)

Andrews -- by virtue of his 143-carry, 520-yard, 21-catch 2015 -- is easily the most productive pro in the group. He hasn’t touched the ball in an NFL game since 2016.

And even if we drop the line down to a 4.75-second 40 time, the best we add in terms of productive NFL backs is Matt Asiata (pretty easily).

If Holyfield lands in a good spot either late in the NFL Draft or as a free agent, then you can feel free to take a late rookie-draft shot on him. But he doesn’t look likely to help your fantasy football team at any point.

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