ESPN Insider: Ezekiel Elliott is best RB prospect since Adrian Peterson
If there’s been much criticism of Ezekiel Elliott throughout the pre-draft evaluation process, it’s been few and far between. The praise, however, keeps coming.
ESPN NFL Insider Sam Monson took that praise to another level.
He wrote a piece for ESPN Insider that not only said Elliott is far and away the best running back in the 2016 draft class, but that he was the top prospect at the position since Adrian Peterson.
Here was how Monson defended that argument:
“Ezekiel Elliott, the No. 1 running back prospect in the 2016 draft, has the chance to make a bigger impact than Gurley. Elliott, in my opinion, is the best back to come along for the better part of a decade — since Adrian Peterson in 2007.
That is a comparison that gets thrown around every year, but it’s not something I’ve said before. The reason I am so high on Elliott is because of his complete game.
The knock on Elliott is that he isn’t the runner that Peterson and Gurley are — that he isn’t as dynamic and doesn’t have the same breakaway ability. That’s true to a degree, but the gap between them isn’t that big. Last season, the former Ohio State back had 24 rushes of 15 or more yards, and the percentage of his rushing yardage that came on “breakaway runs” was 41 percent, third in the draft class. In the NFL last season, Gurley notched 16 breakaway runs and Peterson had 17. Gurley led the NFL in the breakaway-yard percentage at 45.9 percent. Even allowing for the difference between college and NFL defenses, we are looking at a player who can still make big plays.”
Monson’s argument that Elliott will have an ever bigger impact than Gurley is setting the bar high. Gurley, despite the fact that he was coming off a torn ACL, ran away with Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year honors and was named second-team All-Pro in 2015.
Elliott is considered by many as a can’t-miss, three-down back prospect. Mel Kiper Jr. said that he has the least bust potential of any player in the draft.
That’s why some believe he’ll go No. 4 to the Dallas Cowboys, which would make him the first running back selected in the top 5 since Trent Richardson was picked third in 2012.
But if the experts are right, Elliott’s career will resemble Peterson’s a whole lot more than Richardson’s.