Philadelphia Eagles Draft Preview: Ezekiel Elliott

Jan 1, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes running back Ezekiel Elliott (15) carries the ball during the second half against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 1, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes running back Ezekiel Elliott (15) carries the ball during the second half against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports /

One of the Most Celebrated Rushers in Ohio State University’s History Could be Calling Philadelphia Home Next Year

April is upon us.

Over the past couple of weeks, the internet has been flooded with mock drafts and predictions on where the top collegiate football players will land during the NFL draft in Chicago from April 28th to April 30th.

For the Philadelphia Eagles, the mocks for their number eight pick in the first round has been concentrated on the same multiple prospects. One of these picks may be a surprise given how early the Eagles are picking but would certainly be worth it. The man who made the crop top jersey synonymous with his name and blew up on the NCAA football scene during the 2015 Sugar Bowl, bringing home the offensive MVP honor.

Ohio State University’s Ezekiel Elliott.

Elliott, 20, was a four star recruit out of Saint Louis, Missouri before joining Urban Meyer in Columbus. Getting little time in 2013 as a freshman, Elliott won the starting running back spot in 2014 and came out guns blazing, posting rushing numbers in his Sophomore and Junior year of 1,878 yards and 1,821 yards respectively. Elliott also found the end zone 41 times during those two years as well. During his senior year, Elliott was awarded with the Big Ten 2015 Offensive Player of the Year Award and running back of the year honors.

By some, Elliott is looked at as the best player in the upcoming draft. Brian Baldinger was quoted in an article by Chase Goodbread by saying:

"“I think he might be the best overall player in the whole draft. I don’t think I’m overstating that. I think his tape shows that,” Baldinger said on NFL Network."

In another article by Goodbread, a scout projected Elliott as a late first round draft pick.

"“He’s not as physical finishing runs as (former OSU RB) Carlos Hyde, but he’s got better top-end speed,” the scout told FOX Sports. “He’s not Todd Gurley, but he’s a complete back. I think he’s the real deal and he’ll probably be a late first-round pick.”"


The most commonly used phrase across scouting reports about Ezekiel Elliott is “Complete”. In that, scouts see Elliott as a strength in the run game, receiving game and pass protection in the backfield. In fact, Pro Football Focus called Elliott, “The most complete running back since Adrian Peterson.”

Elliott combines a good combination of size and speed, standing in at 6’0 225 lbs and clocked a 4.47 forty yard dash at the NFL combine. He is also a violent runner yet is extremely elusive and shifty. With that, Elliott also has a very uncanny ability to see lanes for a player at his age, which is sure to play a big hand on how early he gets drafted.


In this clip below look at how Ezekiel Elliott advances to each level, cutting on a dime to read the lanes in front of him while also showing great lateral movement to avoid the tackle near the first down marker.

Ezekiel Elliott
Ezekiel Elliott /


In this instance, watch how the defense forces Elliott to move side to side yet because he is so shifty avoids the defenders and immediately as soon as he sees an opening, shoots up towards the end zone, cuts back on a defender and then shows his power by taking on a would be tackler to get the score.

Ezekiel Elliott
Ezekiel Elliott /


Yards after first contact/Acceleration

In the following two clips look at how Ezekiel Elliott bounces off contact and breaks tackles yet maintains his speed leading to an immense number of yards after contact.

Ezekiel Elliott
Ezekiel Elliott /


Ezekiel Elliott
Ezekiel Elliott /



Because Ezekiel Elliott is a “jack of all trades” type back its hard to compare him to running backs currently in the NFL. The one that keeps coming up in terms of vision and agility is Arian Foster. Another back you could compare him to in terms of burst after contact and that combination of size and speed would be Jeremy Hill and a lesser Todd Gurley

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Perhaps the biggest advantage Elliott has over the aforementioned three running backs is durability. Foster, Hill and Gurley have been nagged by injures whether it be at the collegiate or professional level while Ezekiel Elliott has never experienced the injuries that come with that position.

If Philadelphia Selects Ezekiel Elliott

If Elliott falls to number eight at Philadelphia, and in all likelihood he will, he would present both excellent value and a need at an otherwise very balanced Philadelphia Eagles team. With Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles currently slated as the number one and two backs on the depth chart for the Eagles, Philly doesn’t have a proverbial number one back on the roster nor a young one (Mathews is 28 but injury prone, Sproles is 32). Drafting Ezekiel Elliott would immediately give the Eagles a weapon to use both in the running and receiving game as well as provide Philadelphia with a three down running back. Not only would he be an upgrade at the position, yet it would boost Mathews and Sproles’s value, who are both better used in complimentary roles as we saw last year.

From film to on-field production, Ezekiel Elliott is worthy of a top-ten selection, but will General Manager Howie Roseman and Head Coach Doug Pederson convince themselves to select a running back that early? Its a question most front offices come to every year. Because of running backs short life in the NFL (2.57 years), and the common ideal that the position is a luxury, meaning you can get a running back at any round (see: Arian Foster), it remains to be seen if the Eagles are willing and able to draft a running back that high.

Next: Eagles Still Could Draft QB

Will Ezekiel Elliott be the man holding up the Eagles Jersey come April 28th?  Or will it be someone else? April is upon us. We will soon find out.