Injuries took their toll on the Arizona Cardinals’ running game last season. Ryan Williams went down early in 2012 and greatly impacted their offense. Now Arizona will look for an under the radar prospect to help improve this position.
Andre Ellington from Clemson was a sixth-round selection in 2013’s NFL Draft. During his four-year collegiate career, Ellington totaled 33 rushing touchdowns which proved effectiveness. An average of 5.5 yards per carry also speaks to speed being on display. When discussing Clemson’s weapons, their running back has been in the background behind former-teammate C.J. Spiller then talented receivers like Sammy Watkins, but he deserves attention. The Cardinals also need him to step up after suffering another significant loss this offseason.
Beanie Wells enjoyed success out of Ohio State despite not quite living up to expectations. He was a first-round choice going 31st overall in 2009’s Draft. Power is definitely a trademark for Wells while running up the middle of defenses. Problems did arise, though, when it came to consistency. After collecting a career-high 10 touchdowns in 2011, he only had five touchdowns last season. Despite remaining available in free agency, Wells probably will not return.
An addition of Rashard Mendenhall brings solid talent if he can manage to stay healthy. His 2011 campaign produced 938 yards and nine touchdowns so Mendenhall has enjoyed success. William Powell has shown potential averaging 3.7 yards per carry, but has just 57 career carries. For this reason alone he is a likely backup going forward.
Of course, Williams is still there, but will also have to deal with Stepfan Taylor from Stanford was a fifth-round selection this year and had 38 touchdowns the last three seasons. There will likely be some playing time for him as well. New head coach Bruce Arians has already chimed in on priority at this position.
Arians recently stated that Mendenhall is “No. 1.” Even though he may serve as backup on paper, I would look for Ellington to have a major role. Playing on the kick return team may help this young player break in at first, but his future is bright.