Andre Ellington is a sixth-round selection for the Arizona Cardinals. Sixth round selections in the NFL Draft are not always contributors right away, but the Arizona Cardinals 187th selection overall of Ellington could be. Ellington has repeatedly shown his downhill speed in the ACC over the past three years. His role increased substantially in his sophomore season once eventual top 10 pick C.J. Spiller moved onto the NFL.
It was not until 2011 that Ellington flourished at Clemson racking up 1,178 yards and 11 touchdowns, a 5.3 YPC average. That season Ellington earned second-team All-ACC honors while missing only one game because of injury. He did finish strong and showed promise heading into his senior year with 125 yards in the ACC Championship Game win over Virginia Tech and 116 yards on 10 carries during their blowout loss to West Virginia in the Orange Bowl. Ellington still needed surgery after the 2011 season.
Ellington came back strong in his senior year, debuting with 228 yards rushing at Auburn in the opener. Auburn proved to be a horrific football team last year, but 9.1 YPC is still a tremendous average (even if it was just for a game). Ellington finished the year with 1,081 rushing yards, 232 receiving yards, and nine touchdowns. In his senior year Ellington earned first team All-ACC honors while helping Clemson finish with its first 11-win season with a Chick-fil-A Bowl win against a stout LSU defense. Ellington amassed only 50 yards rushing in that game, but still had a modest 4.5 YPC. To me, YPC is the most important stat for a running back.
Ellington enters a new era of Arizona Cardinals football, one with new coaches, a new quarterback, a new general manager and even a new practice facility opening in August. Ellington’s patience and ability to follow the pulling guard should lend itself to some productive games, and running behind Jonathan Cooper, the seventh overall pick in this year’s draft, won’t hurt.
Ellington will need to improve his pass protection if he wants to stay on the field otherwise he will be watching from the sidelines while Rashard Mendenhall and Stepfan Taylor hold the lead in that category. Ellington has the ability to put some numbers as a rookie in the NFL. His elite breakaway speed is better than that of Alfred Morris, also a sixth-round selection last year who has emerged into one of the league’s best ball-carriers. Morris is 20 pounds heavier but I think they are very similar.
They are both 5’9″ and Ellington is nearly a tenth of a second faster on the 40-yard dash. Also, Ellington’s experience against top-level talent in college should give him a leg up entering the NFL, as Morris went to Florida Atlantic and played against sub-par defenses.
Did the Arizona Cardinals find the next Alfred Morris? Ellington was projected as a second to third round pick in the NFL Draft, so because the Arizona Cardinals were able to select him in the sixth, fans should be overjoyed about this pick. Fans should be even more so excited about his pairing with Stepfan Taylor for what could be the future of the Arizona Cardinals backfield.
The Cardinals found a steal at this pick in this draft. For that, I give them a solid A.