When Philly traded up from No. 13 to No. 8 overall in the 2016 NFL Draft, they knew entering the top 10 meant a chance at an elite, difference-making athlete.
Looking at the “Big Board” there are a handful of college stars who make sense for the Eagles, but no names jumps out more than that of Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliot.
The Eagles still have two talented running backs on their roster in Darren Sproles and Ryan Mathews.
Their two backs are talented and bring different things to the table, with Sproles boasting elite quickness and a low center of gravity and Mathews acting as a strong, speedy downhill runner.
Both have a history of being banged up, and in Mathews case being injury-prone. So are the Birds going to stay put? Or is Elliot a reasonable draftee if he’s on the board when Philly is on the clock?
“You can play with the two guys you have,” Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said last week. “We also have some young guys on the roster. You’re still going to look, whether you still have some free agency left, you still have opportunities possibly in the NFL Draft coming up next month. You’re going to need a few more bodies at that position. Going forward, if you play with two the entire season you might be a little thin. You have to get some depth there.”
In true Pederson style, very noncommittal but seems to lean in the direction of “yes, we need more running back depth desperately.” However they also have areas of need to address like offensive line and cornerback.
Adding Elliot would put the rookie in a perfect situation where he can get his feet wet, learn from talented veterans but not be relied upon to carry the entire running attack.
In the Big 10, Elliot had a legendary season in 2014, rushing for more than 200 yards in three straight games –the Big Ten Championship Game vs. Wisconsin (220 yards), Sugar Bowl vs. Alabama (230) and National Championship game vs. Oregon (246). In all he eclipsed 1,800 yards that season.
In 2015, he ran for more than 1,800 yards again and during last month’s NFL combine ran a solid 4.47 40-yard-dash. He is known for his emotional passion for the game, and will need to improve as a receiver once he makes the leap to the pros.
NFLDraftScout.com has Elliot listed as the best running back in the draft and No. 9 overall prospect.