Chicago Bears among 3 best NFL team fits for Ezekiel Elliott
The PFF analysis team recently put out its latest draft board for 2016, this time including the top 100 NFL prospects.
Where do the top prospects fit best? We identified three ideal team fits for each player in the top 10, based on scheme, need and where each prospect is likely to be selected.
Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott is a recent entrant to the top 10 of the PFF draft board, having impressed throughout the draft process after grading out as the No. 1 running back in this class. His pass-blocking grade was far and away the best at the position, and he had just one drop on 27 catchable passes this season, showing his potential to be a three-down back in the NFL. But he also showed he can excel as a runner with his 3.61 yards after contact per attempt average – the best in this year’s RB class.
Elliott would be a great fit with many teams, but which teams drafting in the range where he is likely to come off the board make the most sense for him? Here are the top three:
Chicago Bears: Chicago is beginning its post-Matt Forte era, and Elliott is another back with a well-rounded game who could provide an immediate upgrade as a runner over what Forte provided his final few seasons (he actually earned a negative PFF rushing grade in three of his final four seasons). No. 11 is early to draft a running back, and the Bears might prefer to address their offensive line or defensive backfield, but purely based on value and how we’ve graded him, Elliott is worth consideration.
Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins saw Lamar Miller, PFF’s fourth-highest-graded running back this season, sign with the Texans in free agency. 2015 fifth-rounder Jay Ajayi actually performed quite well on a per-snap basis as a rookie, earning a much higher elusive rating than Miller, but Elliott still represents a major talent upgrade. Not only could help right away as a runner, but his abilities in pass protection would be an asset behind a Miami offensive line that allowed quarterback Ryan Tannehill to be under pressure on 39 percent of dropbacks in 2015 – the sixth-worst rate in the league.
Indianapolis Colts: We know, we know. The Colts dealt a first-round draft pick for running back Trent Richardson a few years ago and it worked out spectacularly poorly, so the idea of them again investing a first-round choice at the position seems crazy. But compounding that mistake by not taking a top-10 talent with the No. 18 overall pick would be even worse than passing on Elliott, were he to last this long – and the fact is that he’s a great fit for the Colts. Soon-to-be-33-year old Frank Gore had the fifth-most carries in the NFL last season and registered a rushing grade that was just slightly above average. And as mentioned with Miami, Elliott’s pass-blocking prowess would help keep upright a franchise QB in Andrew Luck who was under pressure on 40 percent of dropbacks in 2015 and has already taken far too many big hits in his young career.