The University of Clemson product appears to be one of the steals of this year's NFL Draft so far. Drafted in the sixth round, Ellington has impressed head coach Bruce Arians with his speed and elusiveness in the open field. He should continue to see more and more work in Arizona's backfield as the season progresses.
Strengths: Making an impact for the Cardinals in rookie season. Possesses above-average straight-line speed. Attacks the line of scrimmage in one-back formations. Good vision and foot quickness for the cutback, has a burst through the hole and can accelerate away from oncoming defenders. Tough for college safeties to get an angle on. Excellent balance in the open field to cut, put his hand on the ground to stay upright, or even leap sprawling defenders. Runs with some lean for his size, and he lowers his pads pre-contact to get an extra yard. Takes big hits and bounces back up. Tight-ropes the sideline when necessary to maximize runs. Shows the ability to create behind the line of scrimmage when the play side breaks down, and the creativity and knowledge of pursuit angles to set up second level defenders. Shows patience running behind pulling guards and fullbacks, can cut in either direction off the block. Stiff-arm in the open field can be effective in keeping away defensive backs. Very dangerous in space. Good hands to be a threat as a receiver in the flat, over the middle, on screens, and down the sideline on wheel routes. Dangerous kick returner who can slide through creases and explode into the open with quick cuts and pure acceleration.
Weaknesses: Undersized, and lacks great power as an inside back, though he has some lower-body strength and the effort is there when trying to run clock. Does not possess elite agility to elude defenders in space, and can be brought down by glancing tackle attempts. Cuts are not consistently decisive or strong. Pass protection skills are lacking, lays down at the feet of defenders instead of holding his ground. Generally holds the ball high and tight, but upper-body strength is not exceptional so the ball will come out on occasion. Runs with a very narrow base, negating any power he might have.
Bottom Line Ellington's straight-line speed (if only average size) allows him to press the line with authority and accelerate to freedom, yet he still shows patience when following his blockers- a dangerous combination for opposing defenses. He has been productive and has shown toughness as an inside runner, but his size and limitations in pass protection will eventually leave him as a rotational runner in the NFL. Space players with speed are at a major premium in the NFL and Ellington is impressive in space.
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