The 2019 NFL Draft is deep at running back despite not having a clear-cut first-rounder in the class. Alabama’s Josh Jacobs is the favorite at this point to come off the board in Round 1, but he’s not the only one who has immediate starter’s talent.
Georgia’s Elijah Holyfield, son of boxing legend Evander Holyfield, is one of the most appealing running back prospects in this year’s class, offering a combination of power, balance, burst and incredible feet.
Holyfield finished 2018 with 159 carries for 1,018 yards and seven touchdowns. He’s entering the NFL with only 215 collegiate carries (6.2 yards per carry) and a lot of mileage left in his legs. Big stock up.
Holyfield is the perfect size for a feature-back in today’s game. He’s unofficially listed at 5-10, 215 pounds and plays like the kind of compact bowling ball his measurables would predict. But most important to Holyfield’s game is his incredibly light and quick feet. He’s dynamic. His ability to navigate through the line of scrimmage, find his running lane and explode through it is a direct result of those quick feet.
Holyfield is equal parts inside/outside runner. He can lower his pads and bang it between the tackles for short yards but has the skill set to flip a short gain into a 20-yard run. He can beat defenders to the edge, turn the corner and get upfield for chunk plays on outside runs and is a decisive plant-and-go guy who has the vision, instincts and initial quickness to excel in a zone scheme.
Don’t let scheme play a factor in Holyfield’s evaluation, however. He’s a plug-and-play guy regardless of the offense.
Will he be a factor as a receiver in the NFL? His college resume is incomplete in that regard; he only caught five passes in 2018 and has a total of seven receptions over the last three years. But you can’t fault a guy for something he wasn’t asked to do. There’s enough reason to believe Holyfield is a good enough athlete to transition well as a pass-catcher out of the backfield in the NFL.
Holyfield will be a big-time riser up the draft board if he runs well at the NFL combine or his pro day. Holyfield has a chance to be a top-50 pick in April, assuming he runs in the low 4.5’s (as is expected of him). If he falls any lower than that, he’ll be one of the bigger steals in this year’s class who is going to make an immediate impact in 2019.