The NY Jets need a new running back in the mix but they would be making a mistake drafting Ezekiel Elliott in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft.
Many Jets fans and pundits are looking toward the draft and looking at the team’s areas of opportunity. Quite a few mock drafts expect Elliot to go to the Jets at No. 20, but that would be a mistake. They need to focus on a different position based on what the team needs.
Here is what NFL.com had to say about Elliott and what makes him an enticing first-round pick:
NFL.com AnalysisElite, three-down running back who has the ability to excel in every facet of the game. Elliott has rare combination of size, athleticism, pass-catching and blocking skills and his competitive nature is always bubbling on the surface. While he’s had to handle a heavy workload over the last two seasons, Elliot should still come out of the gates as one of the most productive young running backs in the league.
I agree with the NFL.com analysis as a whole for Elliot. With that said, Elliot struggled a little bit with the pass catching drills in the 2016 NFL Combine. He did well overall, but in today’s NFL a running back needs to be more than just a fast power runner. I am paraphrasing what Mike Mayock said on more than one occasion during the combine broadcast, but the more you can do, the more of an asset you are.
That’s why I don’t think Elliot is worth a first round pick. He’s not a three-down back, because he will struggle too much in the passing game for a team that’s in win-now mode.
He doesn’t fit what the Jets need, and there is a back who can fill a lot of holes the Jets need. In offensive coordinator Chan Gailey’s system, the Jets could use a back like Bilal Powell, especially if they can get a back in free agency. That is a back who can not only give you explosive runs out of the backfield (occasionally), solid in between the tackles runs but one who can catch passes out of the back field as well.
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That’s what I was looking for from the combine, the back who can do the most.
The one that stood out to me wasn’t even Derrick Henry, who surprised me in pass catching drills. The running back I moved to the top of my list for the Jets, was Kenyan Drake.
The Jets may end up taking both players, because according to NFL.com, he’s a late round draft pick.
Drake become the forgotten running back with Derrick Henry’s Heisman winning season, but he has good size, quick feet can catch the football. Drake’s draft stock could depend on whether or not teams envision him as quality backup who could become part of a committee approach. Drake’s physical traits and special teams could make him a good value selection early in the third day.
He showed speed and explosion during his combine workouts. He had a 4.45 40-yard dash and a 123 in. broad jump, which are both great when your looking for a back who is a pass catcher and a third down type back. Also, Drake can fill a hole in the special teams unit that the Jets desperately need.
The Jets should focus on pass rushers, offensive linemen and tight ends on the first two days of the draft. Going running back early and not focusing on that position in free agency would be a mistake. It’s better to get a viable experienced featured running back for the kind of offensive system the Jets currently have.