"A healthy Ezekiel Elliott has the skills to be productive in any system, but put him behind the Cowboys line with the tools to play on all three downs, and he'll easily walk away with Rookie of the Year."
- Sam Monson, Pro Football Focus
These days in the NFL it's rare to see a running back drafted in the top 10 in the NFL Draft, so if a running back's name gets called that early you know he has the chance to be special. The hype doesn't always materialize, just ask running backs like Trent Richardson and C.J. Spiller. The case of Ezekiel Elliott is likely to be a lot different from those two backs. Unlike Richardson and Spiller, Elliott stepped into about as perfect a situation as a running back could've when being drafted that early. If Dallas can get Darren McFadden over 1,000 yards rushing in a year when Tony Romo was hurt the majority of the season, imagine what Elliott will be able to do.
The biggest reason why Elliott is already being championed as one of the favorites for Rookie of the Year is because he'll have PFF's top run-blocking team the last two years in front of him. Even if the offensive line of the Cowboys isn't able to make holes, Elliott is likely to still make things happen since he is so good at picking up yardage after contact. Add in that Elliott is a three-down back because of his ability to block and catch. Because of Elliott's versatility it's going to be hard for Dallas to keep the running back on the sidelines. Elliott's production will likely be boosted if quarterback Tony Romo can stay healthy. If the veteran is able to recover from the injuries he suffered last year, it'll make Dallas' offense a little more unpredictable since defenses will also have to worry about Romo finding wide receiver Dez Bryant. All the pieces are there for Elliott to make a name for himself in the NFL early, and be the best rookie in this year's draft class.
"The New Orleans Saints grabbed former Ohio State wide receiver Michael Thomas in the middle of the second round, 47th overall. For some, this is right where Thomas should have gone. However, we might well look back in three years and talk about how the Saints stole one of the top receivers in the 2016 draft."
- Kristopher Knox, Bleacher Report
To Ohio State fans it's not a surprise that wide receiver Michael Thomas is already being called a possible steal in the 2016 NFL Draft after he fell to the second round. Thomas might not have put up numbers quite like Corey Coleman, Laquon Treadwell, Will Fuller, and Josh Doctson, but there's no denying Thomas is just as talented as those taken before him. Compared to those taken ahead of him, Thomas might actually be in the best situation as he heads into his rookie season in the NFL.
The most obvious luxury for Thomas is he'll have Drew Brees as his quarterback in New Orleans. Over the last 10 seasons, Brees has thrown for at least 4,300 yards and 26 touchdowns in each of those seasons. Thomas should also be able to see plenty of playing time during his rookie season, especially since the Saints released Marques Colston during the offseason. Combine Thomas' size and hands with speedy wide receiver Brandin Cooks, and the Saints should again be able to field another high-powered offense. Don't be surprised if Thomas quickly becomes one of Brees' favorite targets down in New Orleans.
"It's a controversial rule. Some coaches love it, some coaches don't. But it's a rule that we have to abide by, and for the guys it's their right to test the waters. We want our guys to be evaluated, and see if they have opportunities to play at the next level."
- Ohio State men's basketball assistant coach Dave Dickerson via Bill Landis, Cleveland.com
Many Ohio State fans were puzzled when Trevor Thompson announced he was declaring for the NBA Draft last month, but there is likely a method to Thompson's madness. Under a new NCAA rule, players can declare for the NBA Draft, but also can decide to return to school up to 10 days following the NBA Combine. The allure of doing this for a college player is the chance to possibly go to the NBA Combine, work with NBA coaches, and get an evaluation of where they stand as a player. A favorable evaluation could tip the scales in favor of a player deciding not to return to school. If they do return to school, they'll at least have an idea on areas where they could target to make them more attractive to NBA teams in the future.
The flaw in Thompson's plan is he not only wasn't one of the players invited to the NBA Combine, but he also isn't one of the alternates. What Thompson will have to hope for now is that he gets invited by an NBA team to an individual workout. Under the new NCAA rule, a player can work out individually with each NBA team once. Because of this it's likely to see Thompson return back to Ohio State, unless he decides play in the NBDL or internationally. Should Thompson return to Columbus for another year, the payoff could be large for the Buckeyes, as the process will help Thompson target areas he needs to improve on to make him a better player.
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