Andre Ellington Scouting Report: NFL Outlook for Clemson RB

CLEMSON, SC - NOVEMBER 17:  Andre Ellington #23 of the Clemson Tigers runs away from Brian Slay #55 of the North Carolina State Wolfpack during their game at Memorial Stadium on November 17, 2012 in Clemson, South Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Ryan LownesFeatured ColumnistApril 6, 2013

Andre Ellington

Arizona Cardinals

Sixth Round: 187th Pick

After C.J. Spiller was drafted ninth overall by the Buffalo Bills in 2010, Clemson running back Andre Ellington was left with huge shoes to fill.

While lacking Spiller’s explosive speed, Ellington is a very solid player with an NFL future of his own to look forward to.

Can he be a three-down, feature running back at the next level? Or is he a just a change-of-pace that will fit into a stable of backs?

STRENGTHS WEAKNESSES
+ Shifty runner, effortlessly changes gears - Lacks power and bulk to carry the load
+ Good burst, acceleration - Occasionally too hesitant
+ Resilient with impressive balance - Does not have breakaway speed
+ Capable receiver with natural hands - History of minor injuries

 

Tools

 

At 5’9¼”, 199 pounds, Ellington has a lean build without much muscle mass or bulk.

He is an excellent athlete, however, who changes direction with ease, looking fluid in his cuts. His burst is very impressive and he shows off a variety of gears.

While he lacks elite, top-end speed, Ellington is fast enough to turn the corner. He ran a disappointing 4.61 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, though a hamstring tweak was to blame.

In a recent workout, he improved that time by a tenth of a second, but the general feeling is that he will be unable to run at 100 percent before the draft.

 

Intangibles

Character seems to be a factor working in Ellington's favor, but due to a history of minor injuries, scouts may be concerned about his durability.

He is currently dealing with a nagging hamstring injury, which was suffered at the Senior Bowl and apparently reaggravated at the NFL Scouting Combine. In 2011, he missed the majority of two games due to an ankle issue.  A toe injury cut his sophomore season short, as he would miss the final five games.

He was named a permanent team captain as a redshirt senior.

 

System

Ellington was exposed to a wide variety of formations and concepts in his years at Clemson. With Tajh Boyd at the helm, the Tigers have had success running the pistol offense.

 

Vision

There are occasions in which Ellington displays impressive vision to identify cutback lanes. As a whole, however, I find his decision-making in traffic to be very questionable.

He flashes patience to wait for holes to develop, but could use improvement in this area as he has a tendency to run into his own blockers.

  

Passing Game

A weapon out of the backfield as a receiver, Ellington has a lot of potential in the passing game.

He is a natural hands-catcher who comfortably makes plays outside his frame, displaying body control to adjust to poorly thrown passes. His burst and elusiveness make him a threat after the catch. Nevertheless, he was not utilized as a receiver enough in college and must improve as a route runner. 

While still lacking in ways, Ellington has shown improvement as a pass protector. He displays good reflexes and the feet to mirror defenders but struggles to hold blocks. His technique will need work before he is counted on in the NFL.

 

Running between the Tackles

Ellington is a resilient runner with surprisingly good balance for his size. He often impresses with his ability to pinball off defenders, slip arm tackles and stay on his feet.

Nevertheless, he leaves a lot to be desired between the tackles.

Occasionally, Ellington looks too hesitant or reluctant running inside. He has a fairly upright style and does not put his nose down to grind out tough yards. I would take him off the field in short-yardage situations.

 

Elusiveness

A shifty, elusive runner, Ellington is dangerous outside the tackles. He is difficult to track in the open field, changing speeds effortlessly. Additionally, he shows good lateral agility, utilizing a jump cut to create space.

Ellington may not be as dynamic as some of the NFL’s elite, but a combination of burst and vision allow him to excel in space.

 

Power

While I previously described Ellington as a resilient runner, he is not particularly powerful or physical. He does not run behind his pads and punish defenders.

That being said, Ellington manages to gain yards after contact fairly often, despite being an undersized back.

He occasionally does a nice job of keeping his legs churning and makes would-be tacklers pay for indirect contact, but too often accepts the amount of yardage he is given in traffic.

 

Future Role/Scheme Versatility

Ellington is not exactly a dynamic home run threat, but a is shifty change-of-pace back that could energize an offense and keep the defense on their heels.

In the NFL, he will likely need to be complemented by a bigger, more rugged runner who is adept in short-yardage situations. He may be seen initially as a third-down back due to his receiving ability.

Also worth noting, Ellington returned a total of 26 kicks while at Clemson and looked effective in that role.

 

Draft Projection: Late Second-Early Fourth Round

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