Running back ?Ezekiel Elliott

Year: Junior

Height: 6 feet

Weight: 225 pounds

What stands out: While running backs have been devalued in the NFL, Elliott hopes his versatility will convince a team to make him a first-round pick. “I’m a guy that can play three downs,” Elliott said. “You don’t have to take me off the field. I value blocking more than anything. I obviously love to run the ball and I think I have great hands out of the backfield.” He helped his cause Friday during NFL combine workouts at Lucas Oil Stadium, running an official time of 4.47 seconds in the 40-yard dash, which tied for fifth among running backs. His 9-foot, 10-inch broad jump tied for 14th and he recorded a vertical jump of 32½ inches. In his media appearance Thursday, Elliott didn’t avoid a question about his criticism of the OSU coaching staff after a home loss to Michigan State last season. His eye-opening remarks have prompted questions from NFL teams. “I told them I’ve grown up a lot since then,” Elliott said. “That was a great learning moment for me. I was emotional, but I think what teams want is a competitor and that’s what I am and that’s where it all came from.” A St. Louis native, Elliott baffled a reporter from that city when he mentioned that he used to play fullback, but said that came when he was 7. Elliott said he wouldn’t have finished as OSU’s second-leading rusher (3,961 yards, 6.7 yards per carry, 44 touchdowns) if not for former Buckeye running backs coach Stan Drayton, now in his second season with the Chicago Bears. Elliott would love to be reunited with Drayton; the Bears pick No. 11 in the first round. “He was hard on me,” Elliott said of Drayton. “He’s the biggest reason why I’m the back I am today. He made sure when I learned this position that I learned not just what I do, but what the guys around me do. That made me understand the game so much better. He taught me how to anticipate instead just going off reactions off instinct. That made me play faster and made me into a great player.” Elliott grew up watching the St. Louis Rams’ “Greatest Show on Turf” and is being mentored by one of his idols, Rams Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk.

— Marla Ridenour