Elijah Mitchell, RB, Louisiana
Pro Day Results:
Mitchell’s downward-adjusted time still produced an 86th-percentile speed score (107.3), according to PlayerProfiler. His tremendous athletic profile produced an elite 9.5 Relative Athletic Score, 6th among all RBs in this class.
Mitchell posted big numbers as a 4-year varsity starter at his Louisiana high school, capping his career by leading the entire state with 2,770 rushing yards and 42 TDs. (Travis Etienne and Clyde Edwards-Helaire played their final high school seasons in Louisiana that same year.)
Mitchell still emerged as only a 2-star recruit, though. The Athletic’s Dane Brugler reports that he chose Louisiana over offers from Tulane, Louisiana Monroe and Army, though 247Sports lists no offers beyond the 1 he chose.
With the Ragin’ Cajuns, Mitchell garnered 42 carries and 3 catches as a true freshman in 2017 but missed the final 7 games with “multiple injuries” to the Lisfranc area of his left foot. Mitchell would need 2 surgeries.
He made it back for the following season, though. Mitchell earned 2nd-team All-Sun Belt honors despite ranking 2nd on his own team in carries (behind fellow 2021 RB prospect Trey Ragas). Mitchell trailed his teammate by 61 attempts but averaged 6.7 yards per rush to Ragas’ 5.7. He also racked up 17.5 yards per catch on 20 receptions vs. Ragas’ 9.2 on 25 catches. Mitchell led the team’s backfield in rushing TDs and receiving TDs, while running ahead of 2020 seventh-round pick Raymond Calais.
Mitchell repeated as a 2nd-team all-conference honoree in 2019, leading the Cajuns in carries, rushing yards and TDs (16 on the ground, 1 receiving). He tied Calais for the reception lead among RBs but trailed Calais and Ragas in yards per rush (5.8 vs. 7.1 for Ragas and 7.6 for Calais.
With Calais gone in 2020, Mitchell again paced the team with 141 carries (10 more than Ragas). His 6.2 yards per rush edged Ragas’ 5.8, but Mitchell split receiving work with 2 guys once again. His 16 receptions tied Chris Smith for the lead among Cajun RBs. Smith and Ragas both beat Mitchell, though, in receiving scores and yards per catch. Ragas also beat Mitchell 12-8 in total TDs (10-8 rushing).
Mitchell still closed out his college career with a 1st-team All-Sun Belt nod.
Fair or not, I was expecting more as I started watching Mitchell’s tape.
The wonderful testing numbers just didn’t manifest -- at least in the 5 games I watched -- in any special way.
He is capable of running with some power …
But he didn’t flash that often over my sample.
It took a while to find the lateral agility I hoped would accompany the strong numbers in jumps and the 3-cone drill
It just didn’t show up often enough to make him stand out vs. others in the class in that area.
Those are sluggish-looking moves against lower-level FBS competition.
Mitchell certainly isn’t just a stiff ...
And he can scoot when given space.
But if a RB from the Sun Belt Conference is going to make any noise in the NFL, then I’d like to see him outplaying his college competition more often.
The best trait I saw from Mitchell over this sample was his hands as a receiver. He twice made catches outside his frame.
Mitchell posted huge high school numbers in the football-loving Southeast. Yet he went lightly recruited.
Mitchell averaged a strong 6.2 yards per rush for his career. Yet he garnered only 12.5 carries per game. Trey Ragas beat him 596-527 in career rushing attempts over their 4 shared years. Sophomore Chris Smith -- who got 1 other scholarship offer, from Wofford -- matched Mitchell’s 16 receptions in the latter's senior year.
His athletic/speed testing plus the college rushing efficiency suggest there should be more to Mitchell. But it didn’t present in the games I saw, and he didn't manage to command more touches from Louisiana coaches.
Then there's his size. The Ragin’ Cajun athletic department listed Mitchell at 218 pounds. He weighed in at just 201 at his pro day. That’s 18th-percentile weight for the position. So even if Mitchell "hits" in the pros, it'll likely be in a complementary role.
Barring a surprisingly early NFL Draft selection, Mitchell will be no more than a late rookie-draft consideration for me.