Elijah McGuire is a name that you should know.
“Why? Isn’t he that guy from that one small school in Louisiana or something?”
Yes, that’s him. And rather than try to explain to you how good he is with just words I thought showing some sweet GIFs would be more fun. Plus, the chances of you just taking my word for it on a small school kid or taking the time to watch enough of him to fall in love are pretty low.
Elijah McGuire isn’t considered one of the elite backs in this year’s class because it is just completely stacked. Any other year Elijah would probably receive more praise. The primary issue many will have with him is the level of competition that he faced at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. Others will say he’s just a little bit undersized and can’t run in between the tackles. That may be accurate, but it’s also pretty lazy analysis.
Beyond just looking at stats, when I look at running backs I look at physical attributes that project well for success at the next level. So let’s go over some things that make me love Elijah McGuire a lot more than your average fantasy football nerd.
Yes, that is a running back. Yes, he is making this play against a Texas State team that you would have thought was made up before you saw this GIF. The defender covering Elijah McGuire on this play may not be the best, but what he had to do to pull this off is just amazing.
Elijah starts off by running a fade out of the slot. As soon as the ball is in the air he begins making his read. He takes a look at where the ball will be, where his defender is, high points like a receiver and finishes with just one hand using his body to seal the ball away from the defender. That’s ridiculous for a running back.
Elijah is at the very least a top five receiving back in this class (if not the best).
Change of Direction
Again, the level of competition (promise, this is the last time I mention this) isn’t the greatest.
Just watch Elijah’s feet, the timing and vision he uses to set up this string of ridiculous cuts.
You may not notice at first, but McGuire’s head is always facing downfield looking for the next cut and lane to open throughout the entire play.
Elijah’s ability to make slight but sudden movements with his head, hips and feet allow him to influence the position of defenders at every level of the defense. If you’re an NFL scout you have to love this type of play.
You may think the focus of this play should be Elijah’s awareness or elusiveness (or his acceleration, since that’s header). Nope. Just look how fast Elijah McGuire hits full speed. It takes him what looks like only a few steps and he’s already blown by the defender.
Why do I choose a passing play to illustrate his acceleration? Any running back can get a decent head of steam running out of the backfield. Not every running back can catch a pass, stop so fast his defender nearly falls over, and leave him in the dust in just three steps.
“Okay, well does he actually have any decent top-end speed?”
Does it look like it to you? Elijah covers 90 yards pretty quickly here as he burns every defender on a Big Ten defense.
There aren’t enough examples of Elijah actually having to use his top-end speed, really. But it’s clear after watching several games on him that his speed is real.
However, Elijah is definitely not the biggest back. He’ll need to run around at least a 4.5 or better to garner much attention at the NFL combine this year. I think that kind of speed is there.
Strength to Finish
This last attribute is one thing I wish Elijah would utilize more. He tends to try and avoid contact a little too often. That’s not an entirely bad thing. You want running backs to stay healthy. But you also want a running back to confidently run down hill through solid contact when he needs to do so.
You will definitely hear others knock Elijah for this tendency to avoid running strong up the middle. He can finish when he wants to, but wherever Elijah lands in the NFL, he’ll need to prove he can take a hit pretty early.
Elijah McGuire carried the rock 710 times for 4301 yards (6.1 YPC) and 42 touchdowns in four seasons at Louisiana-Layafette. He also managed to grab 130 passes for 1394 yards and 10 touchdowns through the air in that same span.
Even though the team around Elijah got worse nearly every year, his solid stats remained impressively constant. His total touchdown numbers came down a little bit in his final season. However, that was hugely due to the offense struggling as a whole and Anthony Jennings (the quarterback) stealing some short yardage touchdowns (scored nine on the season).
Elijah McGuire is definitely a solid college talent. His upcoming performance at the NFL combine and potential pro day are incredibly important.
If Elijah lands in a solid NFL situation where they need a pass-catching back, look out. Elijah is the type of prospect that could earn significant snaps early on in his career.
Unless he hits the jackpot with his landing spot I wouldn’t suggest drafting Elijah McGuire in redraft leagues at all. In dynasty rookie drafts you’ll probably be able to get him in the third round.
Write his name down for rookie draft day and don’t forget it!