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Andre Ellington to Cardinals: How Does RB Fit with Arizona?

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 04:  Andre Ellington #23 of the Clemson Tigers celebrates after he scored a 68-yard rushing touchdown in the first quarter against the West Virginia Mountaineers during the Discover Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium on January 4, 2012 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Shaun ChurchContributor IOctober 5, 2016

With the 187th pick in the 2013 NFL draft, the Arizona Cardinals have selected former Clemson running back Andre Ellington.

How does Ellington fit in with what the Cardinals want to do on offense?

This pick is interesting because it creates a wealth of talent in the backfield for Arizona. General manager Steve Keim just spent a fifth-round pick on former Stanford RB Stepfan Taylor, and with the free-agent acquisition of former Pittsburgh Steelers RB Rashard Mendenhall, there are three newcomers to the backfield after only two have departed.

Beanie Wells was released shortly after Keim was hired and LaRod Stephens-Howling signed with Pittsburgh as an unrestricted free agent.

With Alfonso Smith and William Powell also on the Cardinals roster, there are five guys to fill what will likely end up being four spots.

Ellington rushed for 3,436 yards during his four-year college career. He scored 33 rushing touchdowns and averaged 5.5 yards per carry.

As a speed guy, Ellington introduces an interesting dynamic to the Arizona offense, but with how he will be used unknown at this point, it is anyone’s guess how good he will be.

He still has to make the roster.

There seems to be a culture change happening in the backfield. No longer will mediocrity suffice. Despite Arians employing a pass-heavy offense in which running backs will be scarcely used as receivers, his ball-carriers will be required to show a great work ethic, a willingness to adapt to what is sure to be fewer carries for everyone and the drive to want to be the best in a crowded backfield.

That seemed to be an issue for Mendenhall last season, as he earned a one-game suspension for failing to show up to the stadium after being told he would not suit up for a game in Pittsburgh.

That kind of nonsense will not fly in Arizona.

Both Ellington and Taylor have an opportunity to earn playing time as rookies considering they both were spared major injury in college—Ellington having played in 49 games; Taylor in 52.

While Taylor is a between-the-tackles runner with power and some agility, Ellington is a speedy back who can get to the edge on sweeps and tosses, then use one cut to get upfield and weave through traffic. He is not the fastest back in this draft, but he does improve the Cardinals’ backfield speed by being on the roster.

Options are always good to have.

Head over to Twitter and follow the latest Arizona Cardinal. He is in the Cardinals’ plans, so welcome him to Phoenix with me.

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