Customer: Andre Ellington
Part: Running Back, Arizona Cardinals
Description: Greater than RB15 in 2014
Ship By: 4/5/14
Andre Ellington, former graduate of Berkeley High School in South Carolina-was ranked as the 24th running back coming out of Berkeley- Scout.com ranked Ellington behind the likes of Darrell Scott, Cyrus Gray, Chris Polk, Jacquizz Rodgers, and his current teammate Ryan Williams. Ellington picked Clemson over numerous well established collegiate programs such as Florida and Georgia that both offered him scholarships. Fast forward through his Clemson career as he finished 4th on the all time rushing list just behind CJ Spiller and entered the draft process as a projected 2nd round pick. After a disappointing performance at the combine and an aggravated hamstring injury, that 2nd round projection quickly vanished. The current 25 year old weighed in at 199lbs and 70 inches tall while running a meager 4.61 40 yard dash at the scouting combine. This poor performance and previous injury concerns turned Ellington into a 6th round draft pick as the Arizona Cardinals selected him with the 19th pick.
Throughout his football career Ellington has always been captivating by playing the role of an underdog. Things changed his rookie year when Ellington finished his 2013 campaign with 165.30 fantasy points just outside the top 25 at RB26. While Ellington’s current (ADP) Average Draft Position is 51.7 or RB16. It’s obvious the dynasty community thinks highly of him and his talent, but I’d like to take the attraction one step further. Ellington is a top 15 running back in my rankings for the current and foreseeable future, this processing form will illustrate the reasoning.
Starting in the trenches, the Cardinals ranked 32nd in both 2012 and 2013 among offensive line ranking (profootballfocus.com). It can’t get any worse, right? Coming into 2014 the Cardinals offensive line should take what I deem a huge jump in the rankings. The former 7th overall pick, Jonathan Cooper will return from a broken fibula suffered in the 2013 preseason to start at offensive guard. Steve Keim (Cardinal’s GM) made a legitimate splash once the free agent market opened by inking former Oakland Raider, offensive tackle Jared Veldher to a five-year 35 million dollar contract. According to Pro Football Focus, the Cardinals projected offensive line starters is as follows: OT Veldher, OG Cooper, C Lyle Sendlein, OG Daryn Colledge, OT Bobby Massie.
The first running back listed is the 2013 version of Ellington. The second back has a current ADP of 13.8 – also entering his second season albeit he is 2.3 years younger. This running back is none other than Giovani Bernard, I wouldn’t stop the comparisons just yet- see chart below:
I am not insinuating Ellington will be as effective or more effective then Bernard from a career standpoint, yet I’m pleasantly surprised with how Ellington stacks up in comparison to Bernard (whom I love as dynasty asset).
Bruce Arians, the Cardinals head coach, has spoken glowingly of Ellington this off season. When asked about Ellington at the Scouting Combine Arians stated:
“He has a unique talent we want to look at and continue to build our offense around this year.”
Arians also said Ellington added 10 pounds of muscle this off season. Adding 10 pounds of muscle is music to my ears as an Ellington owner. Reading between the lines, I foresee Ellington getting set to take on a heavier work-load for the 2014 season. Add a full off- season with the same personnel, coaches, and system and that just might equal a recipe for success.
The meat and potatoes as to why I have Ellington in my top 15 isn’t the offensive line, the comparison to Bernard, or even the coachspeak coming from Arians; it all stems from what he does on the field. In the cut-up below vs NC State he displays what I think sets him apart from more ordinary running backs in the league — vision.
Here you see the Defensive End run a stunt which confuses the blocking assignments up-front rewarding him a clean release into the backfield and right in the lap of Ellington. The side-step displayed by Ellington is nice, but what he does while in the process of side stepping the defensive end is what is impressive to me. He sees the cut back lane open while eluding the defender. This positions him just right to be able to burst through the hole for a 20 yard gain. It’s one thing to see the hole, but having the feet to match what you see is another important aspect. The following play is not as impressive, but he shows good patience to get outside and find a way to pick up a big gain. Bouncing outside doesn’t typically work in the NFL because of the speed from sideline to sideline. The key is running inside to outside.
The worry with Ellington is not his talent, scheme, or the weapons around him. It’s what lies in the NFC West. Seattle was the number 1 ranked defense in the NFL in 2013 allowing 273.6 yards per game and only 14.4 points per game. San Francisco ranked 5th with 316.9 yards per game and 3rd in points per game with 17.0 per game. Finally, St. Louis ranked 15th with 345 yards per game and 13th in points per week with 22.8 per game. A top 15 performance will be a daunting task with these team defenses, but as we have seen with Marshawn Lynch, Zac Stacy, and Frank Gore, the goal is feasible.
What do Stepfan Taylor, Jonathan Dwyer, and Ryan Williams have in common? Outside of Williams- prior to being hampered with injuries- none of these guys are dynamic or even very effective for that matter. Rashard Mendenhall led the team with 236 touches in the 2013 season. Now that he has hung the pads up, there are 236 touches to spread around this backfield. Ellington has the starting job and a great opportunity to pick up much of that additional work.