RB #15 Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio St.*

6’0” – 225 lbs. – 4.50e

Functioned as the team’s backup to Carlos Hyde as a true freshman, then stepped into the starting role as a sophomore and has been carrying the load ever since. Has the type of thick, compact build associated with feature backs at the pro level; good weight distribution throughout the body. Does a lot of his work out of the shotgun in Urban Meyer’s power spread offense, rarely working out of a more pro-style “I” formation. Exhibits very impressive natural feel for the position. Has good vision, recognizing cutback lanes and showcasing the change-of-direction skills to get there, although some coaches may wish he was a little bit quicker to hit the hole. Has plenty of shake and regularly makes the first defender miss; much more elusive than his frame would suggest. Powerful runner who can pick up yardage after contact and finishes most runs by falling forward. Runs through arm tackles with ease. Minimizes the big hits he absorbs by running with a low center of gravity, although he has two years of significant tread on his tires. Protects the football. Not elite in terms of top-end speed but can get to the corner and pick up chunks of yardage; has scored some long touchdowns at the college level. The type of back who should be able to handle an every-down role at the pro level. Often used as a receiving option, occasionally lining up out wide but usually via swing passes out of the backfield; sometimes catches passes in the flats from motion. Possesses soft hands and can catch the ball away from his frame. Gives good effort as a blocker, but success comes primarily through his strength, physicality, an awareness, rather than because of his technique; needs to be more consistent about extending his arms into contact. Has done some lead-blocking work on designed quarterback runs as well. Employed as the team’s punt returner at times, but botched one punt during film review and isn’t a very conventional choice for that type of role. Criticism of the Buckeyes’ gameplan, playcalling, and coaching staff following a loss to Michigan St. may raise some character concerns (despite subsequent apology), but on-field competitiveness and temperament are both desirable qualities; also has earned Academic All-Conference honors. Has already shown he can function as a team’s workhorse at the college level, combining a strong frame, good instincts, a powerful, agile running style, and enough third-down skills to be the first running back off the board in this year’s draft.

Games watched: Michigan St. (’14), Penn St. (’15), Virginia Tech (’15)

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