Our NFL rookie profile series continues with this analysis of 2019 NFL Draft Prospect Elijah Holyfield, RB of Georgia. You can also check out all of our NFL Draft Prospect articles here. We will continue to provide you with these in-depth rookie profiles and a ton of other fantasy football rookie analysis right up through the NFL Draft. Stay tuned, and stay ahead of your league!
Elijah Holyfield holds an impressive pedigree as the son of former heavyweight champion boxer Evander Holyfield and displays an incredible physique at 5’10”, 217 pounds. Despite the hype surrounding his recruitment and career at Georgia, I have not seen fans and experts alike jump off a players bandwagon so quickly as I have seen with Holyfield.
Following his severely unimpressive 4.78-second 40-yard dash time at the NFL Scouting Combine, red flags have been signaling all over the idea of Holyfield being an effective NFL talent. I am here to curb some of those hesitations and to provide you with further analysis to help you determine where his value lies in terms of dynasty startups and rookie drafts.
The fantasy Twitter community had a shock and awe moment back in March when Holyfield completed both of his 40-yard dash runs. It is a rare moment when nearly all of the writers and experts I follow come to an agreeable consensus on a player, which seems to be a case here. However, I still see some great potential in the three-year back out of Georgia.
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Statistics from sportsreference.com.
Holyfield signed with Georgia as the sixth-ranked high school running back in the Nation. He enrolled after coming off a 1,700-yard, 25-touchdown season and was a verified four-star running back across all boards. What many might not have known is that he competed in ‘The Opening’ in 2015 and clocked a 4.50 40-yard dash as a high school senior heading into his freshman season.
The hype around Holyfield’s physique was significant, but he quickly became lost in a pedigree of NFL-caliber running backs who limited the number of opportunities he would see. Sony Michel and Nick Chubb dominated the backfield his freshman and sophomore seasons, and in 2018 he shared snaps with D’Andre Swift.
While the caliber of backs he has split time with should really not hurt his draft stock, it does show specifically why he was unable to take over an every-down role with the Bulldogs in the 2018 season.
Both Holyfield and Swift were split nearly down the middle when it came to their carries in 2018. Holyfield carried the ball 159 times for 1,018 yards and seven total touchdowns, while Swift 163 carries for 1,049 yards and 13 total TDs. The difference was Swift’s receiving capabilities. Holyfield won’t be involved much in the passing game as he only caught seven total passes in his time at Georgia.
I am a man of common trends. I tend to look for them and create an ideology around them. The biggest trend I see from having watched a ton of tape is that there is a consistent lack of breakaway plays. For a player who ran a verified 4.50 in high school, I certainly would have assumed to find Holyfield racing past secondaries on his way to the end zone.
While most will write him off based on his lack of Combine speed and the evidence to back that up within the film, what many don’t realize is that he is still extremely quick on his feet even if he lacks breakaway speed.
Unfortunately, Holyfield did not compete in the three-cone drill, nor the shuttle run which could have given more perspective to just how much burst this running back actually has. Basing my judgments solely on the film, Holyfield shows a terrific ability to be patient in the gap and then quickly shoot through small holes to find room in the secondary.
His elusiveness and incredible competitive nature will likely make up for his lack of speed. He reminds me a lot of Corey Clement, who used his shiftiness and vision to make an impact in the second level of his runs. One thing to note again is Holyfield’s lack of usage in the passing game. He proved to be a decent pass blocker, capable of defending against multiple schemes, but he was rarely used within the passing game out of the backfield.
The tale of the tape is pretty clear-cut. Holyfield scored in the 91st percentile in the bench press, but only the fourth percentile in the 40-yard dash and vertical jump. He was valued highly for his physical attributes, which now remain one of the most puzzling pieces to this prospect.
Two player comparisons are Theo Riddick and BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Of the two, I really enjoyed breaking down the statistics of Green-Ellis’ career compared to the collegiate statistics of Holyfield.
In his six-year NFL career, Green-Ellis only caught 52 receptions on 78 targets. However, he maintained a nice 3.9 yards per carry average and scored 42 touchdowns. The size and frame of Green-Ellis definitely translate to Holyfield’s and their playing style is very similar.
Since February, Holyfield has seen his ADP drop from 129.50 down to 210 (as of April 2019). Most of this decrease is due to his poor Combine and pro day performances, while fantasy Twitter has certainly added on to his decline. I would expect his ADP to climb back up after the NFL Draft if he lands in a desirable spot.
He is currently being selected as a late third round draft pick in rookie drafts and in some scenarios, I have seen him fall into the middle of the fourth round. If you have a few late picks in your rookie drafts, I would not hesitate to pick him if he falls to you late.
Holyfield is far too talented to pass on despite what the critics say. As an athlete, he is so much more than his lack of speed and given his competitive nature I would not be surprised to see him cut some weight and regain some speed in his first year in the NFL. He should be a second option out of the backfield with most teams and given a favorable situation he could finish the 2019 season as an NFL starter.
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