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Arizona Cardinals’ Andre Ellington Turning Heads Around the NFL

December 20th, 2013 at 5:14 AM
By Steve Smith

'University of Phoenix Stadium, Home of the Arizona Cardinals (3)' photo (c) 2009, Ken Lund - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/
It's been a special rookie season for Andre Ellington so far.

The Arizona Cardinals' running back leads the NFL with a 5.9 yards per rush average on 94 carries. He's turning heads around the NFL with his speed, acceleration and big-play ability. Not bad for a sixth round pick.

Let's take an updated look at what scouts are saying about the University of Clemson product via our friends at nfl.com:

Strengths: Tremendous talent with huge upside. Fine athlete and dangerous in the open field. Making an impact for the Cardinals in rookie campaign. 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. Quite impressive. Having excellent rookie season to date.

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Tags: Andre Ellington, Arizona, Arizona Cardinals, Football, NFL

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