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2016 NFL Draft Player Breakdown: Ezekiel Elliott

Ezekiel Elliott is the best running back in this year's draft and possesses the skill-set to make an immediate impact in the NFL. With the 13th pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins select; Ezekiel Elliott, running back, THE Ohio State University.

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Who is Ezekiel Elliott?

Ezekiel Elliott is the best running back in this year’s draft class.  Born and raised in Alton, Illinois, Elliott knew he was born to play football.  Elliott attended John Burroughs School in Ladue, Missouri where he played running back for the high school football team.  As a junior in 2012, Elliott was named offensive player of the year by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  He rushed for 1,802 yards and 34 touchdowns, as well as catching 23 passes for 401 yards and 6 touchdowns.  During his senior year, Elliott rushed for 2,155 yards and 40 touchdowns.  Elliott was a four-star recruit according to, and the number nine running back in the country.

Ezekiel Elliott joined the Buckeyes in 2013.  As a true freshman, he rushed for 262 yards and 2 touchdowns.  He was the backup to current San Francisco 49ers’ running back, Carlos Hyde.  After Hyde jettisoned for the NFL, Elliott was named the starter for the 2014 season.  During his first full season as a starter, Elliott rushed for 1,878 yards and 23 touchdowns.  He also added 28 receptions for 228 yards.  The Buckeyes went on to win the National Championship that season, playing in the first ever college football playoffs.  In the playoffs, Ohio State would defeat Alabama, 42-35.  Elliott would go on to win Offensive MVP honors for his 230-yard performance.  He followed that game up with an even more impressive performance in the National Championship game.  Elliott had one of the best games of his college career vs Oregon, rushing for 246 yards and 4 touchdowns.  This would be his third consecutive game with over 220 yards rushing.  The Ohio State Buckeyes won the National Championship, defeating the Oregon Ducks 42-20.

In what would become his final season at Ohio State, Elliott rushed for 1,821 yards, 23 touchdowns during his junior year.  Although the Buckeyes didn’t have the same kind of success they had the previous year, Ezekiel Elliott remained the best running back in college football.

The Good

Ezekiel Elliott is everything you could ask for in a running back.  He has ideal size, speed, and elite vision to excel at the next level.  If there’s a hole to be found, he will find it.  Elliott has the ability to cut on a dime, bursting through the hole before the defender even notices he's there.

One thing you’ll notice when watching Ezekiel Elliott, is that he rarely loses yards.  This is a rarity among any position, even more so at running back.  He uses his big 225-pound frame to drive through defenders, consistently gaining extra yards after contact.

Elliott also has the ability to maintain speed throughout the entire run.  Even as he cuts and weaves in and out of traffic, he never loses momentum.

Another strong part of Elliott's game is his ability to block.  He blocks well as a lead blocker in the run game, as well as in pass protection.  Some running backs are unable to stop blitzing defenders, that is not Elliott.  He can move a linebacker to open up a running lane, or pick up a blitzing safety with relative ease.

Elliott has sensational vision.  The play is a designed run to the right.  Immediately after taking the hand off, Elliott cuts and takes off around the left tackle.  He uses his vision to find daylight in the defense, resulting in a touchdown.


The Bad

It is hard to find flaws with a player like Ezekiel Elliott.  He truly is the complete package.  If I had to nitpick, which is exactly what I’m doing, I would have to bring up his inconsistency in the passing game.  Elliott doesn’t have bad hands, he just doesn’t have great hands.  Elliott was underutilized in the passing game at Ohio State.  His opportunities were scarce, something that will change as a three-down running back at the next level.

Then again, I'm just nitpicking.

After a tough loss to Michigan State late last season,  Elliott had a rare outburst during a post-game press conference.  Elliott was frustrated with play-calling and felt that the team wasn't put in the right position to win.

"I'm disappointed in the play-calling. I'm disappointed in the situations that we were put in, and I wish it all played out differently," Elliott said. "It is very disappointing. In the one drive that we had where we kind of had some momentum after we scored on the strip-sack, the plays we ran, we ran a lot of gap schemes and we were gashing them. You guys saw that on that drive. We had a lot of momentum.

"Honestly, we didn't see those plays for the rest of the game. Those plays weren't called anymore. I asked for those plays to be called, and they weren't. It just hurts. It hurts a lot because of how we lost. I feel like we just weren't put in the right opportunity to win this game. We weren't put in the right situations to win this game."


This was a rarity from Ezekiel Elliott, most likely built up frustration from the Buckeyes' disappointing 2015 season.  In the same press conference, Elliott announced that he would forego his senior year and enter the 2016 NFL Draft.  Elliott will almost certainly be a top ten draft pick in April's upcoming draft.

The Skinny

There aren't many flaws in Ezekiel Elliott’s game.  He is as NFL ready as any running back coming out of college since Adrian Peterson himself. Although some might be against drafting a running back in the first round, Elliott is a special kind of back.  He has a solid 225-pound frame that allows him the strength and power to get positive yardage on every touch. Furthermore, Elliott possesses above average speed, using his elite vision and quickness to find the open running lane.  Elliott may be the safest prospect in the draft and will undoubtedly be a starter from day one.  If the Dolphins were to have the opportunity to draft Elliott, the decision could not be easier.  Elliott will be a starter in the NFL for the next decade and the Dolphins can only hope he's available when the team selects 13th overall.

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This article was written by Josh Houtz.  Follow him on Twitter!