About a week ago, the Bears drafted Mitch Trubisky second overall. The Internet was displeased with their choice.
But we may ask ourselves, why was Mitch Trubisky so good last year? The fact is that he was very good. And the answer is simple- defenses were scared shitless of Elijah Hood and they stacked the box. Trubisky picked them apart.
Does anyone remember what would happen any time a defender hit Latavius Murray? I remember. He fell down. I don't recall Murray breaking contact very often. He was great in the open field, but if a defender got his hands on Murray he was done.
Elijah Hood is the antithesis of that. For the last two seasons, Hood averages 4.1 yard per carry AFTER CONTACT. He will bowl people over. He will knock them down. He will drag them along with him. And woe unto you if you try to arm-tackle him, for there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Elijah Hood is an undersized middle linebacker's nightmare. He goes out there looking to punish people.
Weight: 232 lbs.
40 time: 4.58 seconds
Bench Press: 18 reps
Hand size: 9 3/8"
Elijah Hood is big and strong. He takes some time to get up to full speed in his running, but his power and build allow him to finish short-yardage runs in spite of this. He has another gear that he can reach in the open field. His 40 time is slow, but the 40 isn't the best way to measure his style of running. If he ran a 60-yard dash, chances are he'd look pretty good. The extra burst later on in his runs means that he's very difficult to catch from behind or take proper angles on. When he's gone, so long as he's moving in a straight line, he is gone.
Hood is also a pretty good receiver out of the backfield. He has solid hands and can be an outlet receiver. In pass protection, he throws good cut blocks and can really wallop a pass rusher. He can also be a lead blocker and act in a fullback capacity if needed. While Hood doesn't have great change of direction skills, he does have good body control insofar as he can make quick little adjustments to avoid taking a direct hit. Defenders rarely get a good shot on Hood, but he gets plenty of shots on them. Hood broke 28 tackles over the last couple seasons. Hood is the sort of guy who will wear down a defense over the course of a game and make them lose their will. He brings the pain.
Truth be told, Hood does have weaknesses to his game. On another team those weaknesses might be more pronounced, but I'll simply list the things he doesn't do well, and you tell me whether we actually would need him to do any of these things.
Elijah Hood does not have elite initial burst or top speed. He has trouble getting going when the backfield is cluttered. He takes his time hitting the hole on sweeps and wide runs to the outside. His cuts to avoid tacklers are adequate at best. He is, primarily, a short-yardage downhill runner who is a good fit for a power scheme where he can pound the ball up the middle. He won't make his own holes through contortion or squeezing, but must have the hole opened for him by his blockers.
What he brings to the Raiders:
The Raiders getting Hood in the seventh round is absurd. With the possible exception of Chad Kelly, Hood is easily the best player taken in the seventh and is a far better player than his draft position may indicate. If he can make Mitch Trubisky look like Derek Carr, imagine what he can do for the actual Derek Carr.
When I watch film of Hood and remember watching him live, I can't help but think that his closest NFL comp is... Marshawn Lynch. Lynch is a downhill, straight ahead runner who is extremely violent, powerful and hard to bring down. Is it a coincidence that the Raiders drafted this guy a scant few days after signing Lynch to a short-term contract? Who better for Hood to learn from than his own Platonic ideal?
The fact is, Hood fits better on the Raiders than with any other team. With Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington on the team, we literally don't need Elijah Hood to do anything at which he does not excel. Hood is exactly the sort of back the Raiders were lacking last season, and now the Raiders have two versions of him.
Another good comp for Hood is Eddie Lacy. Not fat Eddie Lacy, but fit and trim Eddie Lacy. The guy who can punish would-be tacklers and still break a long gain. The guy who was going second overall in fantasy drafts just a few years ago.
I predict this: In three years, Elijah Hood will be the Raiders' feature back and he will be a top-five fantasy selection, leading the Raiders triumphantly into their brand new stadium while Marshawn Lynch rides off into the sunset, having fulfilled his childhood dream by playing for the Oakland Raiders and winning the Super Bowl, and perhaps more than one.