2021 NFL Draft Profile: RB Elijah Mitchell
Elijah Mitchell was on some analysts’ radar coming out of the CFB season, but he certainly wasn’t getting the same attention as some of the top prospects in this class. However, that all changed when Mitchell showed up to his Pro Day and absolutely shocked NFL talent evaluators.
Mitchell played at Lousiana at around 217 pounds. He wasn’t overly shifty, but he played with enough athleticism to get by in the NFL. However, he showed up to the Lousiana Pro Day at 201 pounds and proceeded to run a 4.38 40-yard dash. This is certainly much different than what he showed on tape, so now there’s an interesting dynamic at play.
Who exactly is an NFL team getting when they draft Mitchell? Are they getting a speedster now who can be a lethal receiving threat out of the backfield? Or was this Pro Day performance to his detriment since teams aren’t sure about his role in the NFL?
These questions are answered here in our scouting profile on Elijah Mitchell:
(All scouting notes listed below are based on watching his tape at his listed weight during the 2020 CFB season)
Weight: 201 lbs
40-Yard Dash: 4.38
Vertical Jump: 38
Broad Jump: 128
Bench: 17 Reps
Short Shuttle: 4.19
3-Cone Drill: 6.94
Skills Breakdown (out of 100)
Vision (70): Mitchell isn’t the flashiest running back prospect in this class, but he’s very productive in his opportunities. He thrives on running downhill and building up a head of steam. Would be excellent in a downhill running scheme. He has average vision between the tackles, though, and won’t create much for himself. Will need an offensive line in the NFL that’s able to create running lanes for him that he can easily identify and exploit.
Burst (75): Good short-area burst for a player of his size, especially when he’s running downhill. Won’t be able to stop and start, as many of the other players in this class, but he can receive the handoff and get upfield quickly.
Change of Direction (74): Struggles to change direction in the sense of lateral mobility. Excellent ability to create space through quick and strategic movements in tight windows, but won’t be the type of running back to approach the line of scrimmage and then jump laterally a gap or two to exploit a new running lane. His footwork and center of gravity won’t allow it.
Power (74): Can punish a defender that meets him in the hole. Good size and is willing to use force to pick up additional yardage.
Speed (75.5): Surprising top-end speed for a player of his size. Won’t pull away from every defender in the NFL for a 60-yard run, but he has the ability to pick up chunk gains if the lane is there.
Contact Balance (75): Hard to bring down due to his elusiveness in tight windows with small movements, but he does not consistently break tackles in the open field. Can keep his legs churning, but this won’t be his best trait or how he wins in the NFL.
Pass Catching (76): Excellent pass-catcher out of the backfield. Good hand-eye coordination and able to adjust to the ball while it’s in the air and make a tough grab. Utilized on a screen on tape, which is rare for a CFB running back. Certainly won’t soak up targets in the NFL, but he does have the ability to be highly effective in the opportunity he’ll receive.
Pass Protection (74): Willing participant in pass protection. Tends to drop his head from time to time, but he has the size and base that will be able to stand up to oncoming defenders — certainly not his best trait, but also not a liability.
Q: How many defenders does it take to bring down Elijah Mitchell?
A: Too many ????pic.twitter.com/eM06EZBb4z
– PFF Draft (@PFF_College) December 26, 2020
Many mock drafts don’t have single RB going in first round so some talented backs might fall to Day 3. One of next month’s best value picks will be @RaginCajunsFB three-down RB Elijah Mitchell. Few bigger backs catch the ball as naturally as @EliMitch15. #TheDraftStartsInMobile pic.twitter.com/sp1pWwJ5ag
– Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) March 5, 2021
They Said It
Projected Draft Range
As mentioned in the intro, Mitchell’s projection to the NFL is a complete mystery now due to the discrepancy between his tape and his Pro Day numbers. However, there is a need for athletic pass-catching backs in today’s NFL, and Mitchell has that skillset. It’s most likely that we see Mitchell come off the board somewhere between Rounds 4 and 5.
Ideal Fantasy Landing Spot
The Denver Broncos moved on from Phillip Lindsay this offseason and need a complementary piece in this backfield. Mike Boone has shown flashes in the NFL, but he’s never been able to put it all together. Mitchell could step in as a perfect change-of-pace option to Gordon and give this offense a spark with his top-end speed.
It’s unfortunately difficult to project who Mitchell plays like at the NFL level because we simply don’t have any tape of him playing 15 pounds lighter. However, based on athletic testing numbers, a comparison could be made to Darrynton Evans. Evans was 5’11/200 coming out of App State last year, and he ran a 4.41 40-yard dash with near-identical numbers in both the vertical and broad jump.
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