RB Elijah Holyfield
Yes, that Holyfield. Just like his father, Elijah is a physical specimen. I’m not sure the 5’11, 215 lbs on his NFL.com bio really does him justice. It’s not just size he brings to the table either. In his limited reps at Georgia, Holyfield was frequently the best athlete on the field. A physical runner with a downhill mentality, he also has the speed and agility to make defenders miss. Regardless, his calling card in college were plays like this:
Then came the NFL combine, where the future Eagle was downright dreadful. He ran a 4.8, dropped passes and looked sluggish in the position drills. With only 215 college carries under his belt and lacking a comprehensive collection of tape, Holyfield’s combine performance was paramount. Unfortunately for the young man, he wouldn’t hear his name called on draft day.
I remember watching film on Holyfield for my 2019 draft analysis hoping that there was some way he would find his way to the Eagles. He’s got his flaws, sure, but given his talent, I was certain there was a team that would find a place for him in a situational role. Both of those sentiments may come true in 2020.
Speaking of his skill set as a runner, Holyfield is a bit of a conundrum. He too often tries to bounce runs to the outside despite his physical nature and his lack of home run speed. As he was simply more athletic than most of his opponents in college, you forgive him for some of that. After all, with just a little bit of room he can turn a small gain into something like this:
Gap discipline is usually preached on defense, but it comes into play with running backs as well. In general, it comes down to mental discipline, which is better learned at the pro level than in college. Interestingly enough, unnecessarily bouncing runs to the outside was a knock on both Jay Ajayi and Miles Sanders, both of whom improved steadily in that regard under coach Duce Staley. So there is hope.
If he can keep his lines vertical, there is a lot to like about Holyfield. Especially near the red zone, he’s a lot to handle. Even with a limited amount of carries in college, we saw him do this again . . .
And again . . .
Which carried over into the NFL:
The Eagles are in the market for a bruising back with redzone prowess and Holyfield fits the ticket. A full(-ish?) offseason with Coach Duce may be all he needs. There are a lot of reasons to believe Elijah could be the next to follow in the footsteps of Josh Adams, Corey Clement and Boston Scott.
The second major knock against Holyfield is his projection as a receiver out of the backfield. As a rotational piece in a very passer friendly backfield, that’s the least of the young RBs concerns. Even still, let’s take a look at his first preseason touchdown:
Seems serviceable to me! Plus, there is no discounting Holyfield’s work ethic. He was regularly the last player to leave at Georgia (with video evidence) and worked his tail off in the offseason with the Panthers. If catching the football is an issue, you wouldn’t know it from the video below.
Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports