It seemed that the moment the Houston Texans agreed to terms with Lamar Miller, the dots were quickly connected between Ezekiel Elliott and the Miami Dolphins. I have been outspoken about not taking a running back in the first round. First, running backs are a dime a dozen.
Second, running backs have a short shelf life due to the amount of contact and abuse they take game in and game out. Also there has been a ton of late round to undrafted running backs that have gone on to have successful careers. Remember C.J. Anderson, I should say Super Bowl winning C.J. Anderson, you know, the guy that a lot of Miami Dolphins fans lost their collective excrement over not being able to sign?
Anderson went undrafted.
I also have one other reason for not drafting Elliot early. That reason is Jay Ajayi, another late round running back. I have a lot of faith in Ajayi’s talent and he showed that talent in the opportunities he got last year.
After having all of those reasons why not to take Elliott in the first, I have to say I would not be upset if we do. This draft is loaded with really good talent. You could feel good about taking forty different guys in the first round and most likely have a good starter for the next ten years.
That being said, there are only a handful of elite players and Elliott is one of those elite players, he may be the best player in the draft. Elliott is the total package. He can block, catch, and has homerun speed. Elliott also has elite vision, but the best quality that Elliott has is his ability to manufacture positive yards.
Below we will use a different approach to illustrate Elliott's skills than in past film reviews, and hopefully it provide you all with some interesting perspectives.
First off, Elliott is a really good blocking back. He can pass block and run block. It is important that he can pass block, as Adam Gase has said he wants running backs to stay in for entire series, this means they have to pass protect. It is not usual or always necessary for a running back to run block in the NFL, but we run the ball with a lot of different personnel.
Tannehill is a very capable runner, as well as Jarvis Landry. Gase also likes to use two running backs in the same play so Elliott may have to block for Ajayi from time to time.
This first clip shows Elliott making a very difficult block. He starts the play on the left side of the formation and has to make a stretch block on the right side of the formation without tripping up his quarterback. It was a running play but the block was more of a pass pro block.
This next clip shows Elliott’s relentlessness with blocking. He misses his initial block. Most players would say "Okay I tried," but Elliott didn’t give up on the play. He runs down the field and delivers a jarring block to a defender.
Elliott is very good at finding second level defenders and sticking to them as a blocker. He does just this in this clip of him run blocking to spring a touchdown.
Then there's Elliott's ability as a great pass catcher. He is able to run routes like a wide receiver. He runs a screen on this play but what makes him a really good pass catchers is his ability to see the ball into his hands, then turn and run like a natural receiver.
Again Elliott shows he is a natural pass catcher, this time he catches the ball out of the back field.
Elliott is one play away from breaking the big one. In this clip he sees the crease and explodes to pay dirt.
Speed is not always used to hit home runs. It is also necessary to win the corner, and stretch the field. This clip Elliott shows the ability to beat the defender to the corner, this speed forces the defense to play all parts of the field.
This clip was a minimal gain, but it is one of my favorite Elliott clips. As soon as Elliott gets the hand off there is a defender in his face. He doesn’t panic and try to run to the opposite side of the field like a chicken with his head cut off. He takes a slight cut, avoids, and breaks tackles.
Again this is another minimal gain, but it showcases Elliott’s pad level. I like to see running backs that take what is given, runs behind their pads and falls forward for a minimal gain.
These next two clips showcase Elliott's vision and ability to step and burst through the cutback lane. The Miami Dolphins under Gase still run a zone scheme running attack in which cutbacks are a most with running backs.
This clip shows crazy vision that separates Elliott from a lot of running backs. He sees an opening to his left, uses patience to set up the blocks then explodes to beat the defender to the corner.
Elliott does a great job of letting his blocks set up to maximize his running room. The best running backs have this patience but few have the burst to explode at the optimum time. Elliott has the burst and the patience.
In this clip, Elliott is left with little running room. He doesn’t try to dance around. He puts his head down and gets what he can. I love this.
This film review was done by Matthew Knowles. Follow him on Twitter: @blueflamespcl
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