Let’s say that the Browns had to take the best offensive playmaker with their number eight pick. Those top two playmakers would be Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State and Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss. First, I will go over each player and then choose who I would pick.
Before I take a ton of heat for this article, I would like to first say that this is purely a speculation “what if we had to” piece. I am also assuming that the top two offensive players are available at pick eight in the draft.
What is there not to like about Ezekiel Elliott? He is a powerful runner who is shifty and can accelerate through the hole with the best of them. He has an excellent combination of power and speed. In his three-year career at Ohio State, in which he started for the last two, he toted the pig skin 592 times for 3,961 yards and 43 TD’s.
Elliot was also a weapon out of the backfield for the Buckeyes as he was able to haul in 58 passes for 449 yards and one TD. He had 22 games of over 100 yards rushing.
One thing that separates Elliott from many other running backs is his blocking ability. Numerous times throughout his career at Ohio State, Elliott would come up and stop a blitzing linebacker dead in his tracks on a free blitz. He possesses the power necessary to do the same thing at the pro level. Elliott also uses his physical prowess to end runs. He has great size at 6’0 and 225 pounds. He is not an easy running back to take down as he usually will finish runs with his shoulders lowered and squared forward. He took the term “silver bullet” and translated it from defense to the offensive side of the ball. Unfortunately, this is also one of Elliott’s downfalls.
At Ohio State, he touched the ball over 600 times and took quite a beating. Everyone knows the short career span of NFL players as a whole, but it’s especially true for running backs. The only major flaw in Elliott’s transition to the NFL would be his knowing when to try and avoid a tackle or to lower the boom and run a guy over. This is something that NFL backs struggle with early. In college, the safeties you can run over are not usually the same guys that you face on Sundays. There were questions about Elliott’s maturity after the Michigan State game, but that shows his passion more than anything. I love Ezekiel Elliott and he is one of my favorite Buckeyes to ever watch play.
The guy who scouts have been salivating over ever since he walked onto the Ole Miss campus. Treadwell is a big receiver at 6’2, 221 pounds. Treadwell does a great job of going up and getting the football. He uses his hands extremely well when catching the ball and when he has to use his body to create space, he does an excellent job of that as well. He has tremendous footwork for a receiver his size which helps him become so open.
Where Treadwell really excels is in his ability against zone coverage. He tears up zone coverage due to his size and footwork. He is a true possession receiver. Being that big of a guy really helps Treadwell to deliver a solid stiff-arm that helps him gain more yards after the catch. In his three seasons at Ole Miss, Treadwell had 202 catches for 2,393 yards and 21 TD’s.
One thing that scouts question about Treadwell is his overall speed. He only ran a 4.63 40 at the combine, which is not as fast as you’d hope for someone of Treadwell’s skill set. He also lacks the ability to separate himself from defenders in press coverage. With his long arms, he should be able to separate himself more than he has shown at Ole Miss. Treadwell is a physical specimen who any team would love to add to their receiving corps.
The verdict for me? I would love for both of these guys to be in the brown and orange on Sundays for the reasons I listed above. Treadwell would be the receiver pick that the Browns have absolutely neglected to address in the draft since basically ever. Elliott would be a running back who would have to be feared, however running backs in the top 10 absolutely terrify me (TRENT RICHARDSON).
Remember this is all a speculation of who I would select if I HAD to select one of these two players. There is one I am leaning more towards more than the other. I loved Laquon Treadwell at Ole Miss. He was a great player to watch but there are too many questions with his game. He is a big and strong guy who can go up and get the ball, but he lacks the breakaway speed to be able to do much in space. I would pick Ezekiel Elliott in this situation, giving the Browns a beast at running back who can do a little bit of everything and would make everyone forget about a guy named Trent Richardson. The sound of First Energy Stadium chanting, “ZEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEKE” after every big run would be too much to pass up on.