Dynasty Prospect Profile: Ezekiel Elliott
Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
(percentile rank among all WRs at the Combine since 1999, courtesy of mockdraftable.com):
40 time: 4.47 (78th)
Vertical: 32.5” (22nd)
Broad: 9’10 (49th)
20-yard short shuttle: DNP
Elliott delivered on more than just the football field in high school (St. Louis Post-Dispatch player of the year as a senior). He also brought home Missouri state titles on the track in the 100, 200, 110 high hurdles and 300 hurdles.
At Ohio State, Elliott barely saw the field as a freshman and then started his sophomore season quietly. He carried just 27 times over the 1st 3 games, though he did score TDs in the 1st 2 and rush for 65 yards on just 7 carries in Week 3.
From the 4th game on, Elliott racked up 1,737 yards and 16 rushing TDs on 246 carries -- a whopping 7.1-yard rushing average. He averaged 20.5 rushing attempts per game over that stretch. His 1,878 rushing yards for the season marked the 2nd-largest total in school history, 696 of which came over just the final 3 contests -- with 220+ yards in each.
The fact that he did so much so late in the season probably explains why Elliott only garnered honorable mention all-conference that season.
He made up for that by bringing home Big Ten offensive player of the year honors in 2015, when he merely posted the 3rd-largest rushing-yardage total in school history. Elliott topped 6.0 yards per carry once again despite running as the focal point for all opposing defenses behind a passing game that lost 23.6% of its weekly yardage.
Elliott finished his career as the school’s #2 career rusher, behind only Archie Griffin -- who enjoyed an extra season and a half of carries. Elliott beat the only 2-time Heisman Trophy winner by 0.7 yards per carry. And he topped #3 Eddie George by 193 yards on 91 fewer carries. Elliott ran up more yards per carry than any other Buckeye with 87+ career rushing attempts. The nearest RB stands 0.5 YPC behind him.
Elliott also left OSU 2nd in career scrimmage yards, 4th in career rushing TDs and even 5th among RBs in career receptions.
(Courtesy of DraftBreakdown.com)
Games watched: Michigan, Notre Dame, Michigan (2014), Oregon (2014)
This feels unnecessary.
If you watched any of Elliott’s games over the past 2 years, you’ve probably already dreamed about having him on your fantasy team. I don’t watch much college football during football season these days (family time), but I headed into this process having seen enough to know why everyone loves him.
The guy’s awesome. He does everything well. The closest thing to knocks that you’ll find in Elliott’s scouting reports are that he needs to refine his receiving and pass-blocking. You know who else tends to get such an evaluation? Basically every RB who enters the NFL. And he earned positive grades from Pro Football Focus in those areas. And then NFL.com’s Gil Brandt reported that Elliott “shocked many NFL personnel in attendance with how well he caught the football” at Ohio State’s pro day.
The other knock? Elliott runs to contact a little too much rather than eluding tackle attempts when he might be able to at the 2nd and 3rd level. If that’s your biggest issue -- at 225 pounds -- then I’ll take ya.
So I tried to seek out some poorer games among the 9 Elliott videos on Draft Breakdown, to see if I could find anything wrong. But the “worst” available in terms of yards per carry was his 5.5-yard average in last season’s bowl win over Notre Dame. Elliott scored 4 times in that game. I did find 1 whiff in pass protection that got his QB sacked, but Elliott looked aggressive and solid in that area on just about every other opportunity. In short: It’s not going to keep him off the field in the NFL.
Big plays are easy to find if you watch Elliott tapes, but they won’t come as easily for any college back in the NFL. So I picked out a couple of samples to display the range of skills that will help Elliott succeed on regular plays.
Here he is driving through tackle attempts for a solid gain ...
This play from the same game, meanwhile, gained 1 yard at most. But it should have produced a loss of 5 or so …
That’s a 6’3, 241-pound LB that Elliott’s stiffarming to the ground and running past. Had that play gone to the wide side of the field, he might have even picked up the 1st down.
Craving something more dynamic? How about a pair of runs from the 2014 national-title win over Oregon to display some speed, vision, good feet, balance … basically whatever you could want from your runner.
And then let’s go for one more just to watch his impressive awareness and balance -- and, of course, power -- at the sideline against Michigan near the end of 2014 ...
There might be aspects that Elliott can refine, which would make sense given that he HASN’T EVEN TURNED 21 YET. But there doesn’t appear to be much on the football field that he can’t do. It’s like watching 1 of those fictional RBs from a football movie. You can practically hear Chris Berman with the fake SportsCenter call:
Zeke Elliott phoning home to the end zone FOUR times against the Irish, showing that ESU’s Joe Kane isn’t the only guy ABLE to win this Heisman showdown.
PFF has labeled Elliott the “most complete RB prospect since Adrian Peterson.” We haven’t heard praise that high since … well, since Todd Gurley came out last year. But that guy got drafted 10th overall despite coming off an ACL tear and then finished 3rd in the league in rushing yards while ranking merely 9th in carries.
Elliott looks like at least as good a prospect as Gurley, whom he topped by 0.3 yards per carry for his college career. Elliott also averaged 1.3 more yards per rush than Peterson did at Oklahoma and brings a cleaner bill of health than either player.
That’s not to say he’s better than Gurley and Peterson, but Elliott’s easily the top RB prospect in this class and at least 1 of the best we’ve seen in a while. With plenty of question marks all over the WR board, this should be the 1st pick of your dynasty rookie draft and likely at least a 3rd- or 4th-rounder for 2016 redraft leagues.