After a couple of years out of the first round, running backs made a pair of appearances in 2015 when Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon both came off the board in the first 15 picks.
It looks like there’s a good chance that running backs will continue to be represented in the first round of this year’s draft. Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott ran for 3,699 yards and 41 touchdowns over the last two seasons and is generally regarded as both the draft’s top back and a likely selection somewhere in the first 20 picks of the first round.
Elliott says that the reasons why he should make good on those projections go beyond what he does when looking for a hole created by his offensive line.
“I think the thing that sets me apart is just my versatility,” Elliott said, via ESPN.com. “I’m a guy that can play three downs. You don’t have to take me off the field. I value blocking more than anything. I obviously love to run the ball, and I think I have great hands out of the backfield.”
Elliott felt that versatility was not put to the proper use during a loss to Michigan State last season and didn’t hold back from a public criticism of Ohio State’s coaches after the game. He expects to hear questions from teams about it and calls it a “great learning moment,” but believes what “teams want is a competitor” and that his outburst was a byproduct of his competitiveness.
It didn’t seem to bother the Buckeyes, who rode Elliott hard in two wins to end their season, and it probably won’t do much to hurt Elliott come draft day.