Clemson’s electrifying ball-carrier is one of the most elusive weapons in the draft. His slide, like that of many running backs this year, is one which has caused a logjam of talent in the back-half of the draft.
Injuries have hampered his career for the most part as last year marks his only complete season in his collegiate career. The good news is that it was a fantastic season loaded with highlight-type runs.
As a guy who falls just under the 200-pound mark and comes with a history of injuries, Andre Ellington likely would struggle as an every-down back. He projects more as a spot-duty, change-of-pace type back who can make the big play and give the offensive a spark.
One of the concerns NFL teams have with this undersized playmaker is his top-end speed. At the NFL combine, he ran a disappointing 4.61 in the 40-yard dash, though this time was slightly improved upon at his pro day, where he reportedly ran in the 4.5 range. Though this was a significant improvement, it still was not the type of speed NFL teams need out of a guy who measures in as small as Ellington does.
Though there are holes in his game, one thing that does play into his favor is the ability to pass-protect for a smaller, scat-back type player. This is important because it means he should be able to stay on the field more on passing downs at the next level.
As a member of the Arizona Cardinals, Ellington should be able to come in right away and compete for significant playing time with Rashard Mendenhall, Ryan Williams and fellow rookie Stepfan Taylor. The good news for the Cardinals is they have an impressive variety of RBs, each bringing a unique skill set to the offense.
Ellington, however, might be the biggest playmaker of the group. He will likely never be a three-down RB for the Cardinals but he has enormous potential to help this offense in the area of big plays and excitement.
I expect him to contribute more than Stepfan Taylor right out the gate and have a significantly more productive career in the long run.
Grade the selection
Value, value, value is the theme with this pick all day long. Considering his late draft position, there should be absolutely no pressure for the Cardinals. This kid will be able to find a role on the offense at some point. Anytime you can get a home run hitter like this in Round 6, you did well for your organization.
For the talent available, Da’Rick Rogers might be in the argument but unreported character concerns beyond what we already know about him may be why teams are unwilling to pull the trigger on him.