Size: Ellington is weighed in at 5’9”, 199 pounds at the combine and weighed 194 pounds at his pro day. He lacks the size and bulk to be an every down back at the next level in my opinion as he looks skinny on film. To be drafted on the second day he will have to compensate for his lack of size with speed and quickness.
Speed: I expected this to be elite, but I was actually relatively disappointed. He ran slow at the combine, but he ran a 4.52 despite perhaps not being 100% at his pro day. I think he has sub 4.5 speed, but I don’t think he is a 4.4 flat guy when I watch him. He has good speed, but it is not elite speed and that hurts given that I think he has to compensate for his lack of size with terrific playmaking ability.
Quickness: Ellington has quality quickness and it’s obvious pretty quickly after you start watching him. He can make defenders miss in the open field, he hits the hole quickly once he sees it, and he has impressive change of direction quickness and burst.
Inside Running: I don’t think this is where Ellington is going to make the majority of his money at the next level, but he is a solid between the tackles runner. Because of his lack of lower body strength and overall bulk he doesn’t gain a lot of yardage after contact and doesn’t run through a lot of arm tackles (though he does drive his legs, he just doesn’t have the strength to consistently gain a lot of tough yards). He doesn’t seem to run as patiently between the tackles as he does on outside runs, but he doesn’t try to bounce runs outside when they aren’t there.
Outside Running: This was Ellington’s strength at Clemson in my opinion. He’s a faster back even though I don’t see sub 4.45 speed when I watch him, and his quickness certainly benefits him running outside. He is much more patient on outside runs as he allows his blocks to set up and seems to have good vision on outside runs and utilizes his blockers well in open space. While he may not have great lower body strength he does demonstrate impressive balance.
Receiving: Ellington may not have ever caught more than 22 passes in a year (22 as a junior, 14 as a senior) but I think he will be a quality receiver at the next level. He adjusts to less than accurate passes well, can catch the ball with his hands away from his chest, and his quickness will be beneficial on check-downs and swing passes out of the backfield. He’s not elite in this area, and I haven’t seen him make tough catches in traffic, but I think he’s good enough to contribute early on in this area.
Blocking: Ellington gives solid effort as a blocker but his lack of bulk and overall technique hold him back. I’ve seen him drop his head when he is picking up blitzers or occasionally blocking on a run play and that is a big no-no as a blocker. Additionally, his lack of strength and size make it hard to match up well with bigger, stronger defenders which is why despite stepping up and engaging them he struggles to sustain his blocks. With coaching and strength training he could be average or perhaps even solid in this area, but I don’t think he will ever be a great blocker.
Vision: I think Ellington has good vision when running outside, but I was not as impressed with his inside vision and that coupled with his lack of lower body strength and bulk makes me question how good he will be when given carries between the tackles. He doesn’t have poor vision inside, but there are times he seems to drop his eyes and he runs into the backs of his lineman sometimes.
Ball Security: I haven’t seen Ellington carry the ball with poor technique when I’ve watched him as he frequently keeps the ball high and tight, not allowing the ball to flail away from his body. However, he did fumble a couple times in the games I watched of him despite seemingly correct technique. They could just be perfect punches from the defender, or perhaps he just needs to get stronger. Either way, I don’t have serious concerns about Ellington’s ball security.
Overall: Ellington isn’t a feature back in my opinion but I think he has the speed and quickness to be an effective change of pace back. I don’t think he’s going to be the electrifying player that CJ Spiller has proven to be when given touches in Buffalo, but I think he can be effective. His timed 40 yard dashes gave me a little pause, but after I revisited his games I realized that while he may not have elite speed like many might have proclaimed prior to the combine or his pro day, I think he has good speed. If he had been 100% healthy at his pro day I think he would have ran a sub 4.5 time, perhaps in the 4.46-4.48 range. Regardless, he looks fast to me when I watch him, just not as fast as many might have claimed earlier this year. His quickness is evident as well, and while he doesn’t have much power to speak of if he can improve his lower body strength he would be able to generate more tough yardage. As it stands he pumps his legs like you would want when he is being tackled, he just doesn’t generate much push. He is a reliable pass catcher out of the backfield, and with coaching and strength training he could be a solid pass blocker. He’s not going to be an electric home-run threat in my opinion, but I think he can be a pretty good change of pace back. I have a 3rd round grade on him.
Projection: 3rd round. I think he will likely end up in this range, but I’d be kind of surprised if he made it to the 4th round.