INDIANAPOLIS – The Bears radically altered their depth chart at running back this month with the decision to step away from Matt Forte as their lead back. Because of what they believe they have in Ka’Deem Carey and Jeremy Langford, fourth-round picks in the 2014 and 2015 drafts, respectively, they are not expected to make running back a priority in the 2016 draft.
That likely precludes a Buckeye reunion that one of the top backfield prospects wish would happen.
Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott credits Bears running backs coach Stan Drayton as “really the biggest reason why I'm here today, why I'm the back I am today,” Elliott said Friday at the NFL Scouting Combine. “Stan Drayton, that's my guy. He was hard on me since I got on campus… . He made sure when I learned this position that I learned it thoroughly, that I learned not just what I do but what the guys around me do.
“That made me understand the game so much better. He taught me how to anticipate instead [running] just off of reactions, off of instinct. That made me play faster and made me into a great player.”
The Bears were successful with second-round picks on Forte in 2008 and on Anthony Thomas in 2001. Elliott is expected to be a first-round pick, which could be the Bears at No. 11 if he is far and away the best player available on the Bears’ draft board.
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But Elliott’s 6.7 yards per carry average and 43 rushing touchdowns make him attractive to teams looking to recommit to effective run-pass balance, meaning he may be selected before the Bears’ first turn comes in any case.
Still, the thought of again playing for Drayton brought a smile to Elliott’s face.
“You know, if I went to Chicago and played for Stan Drayton, I know he would be a guy who would stay on my case,” Elliott said. “He would never let me get content. He'd always push me. That's what he was for me at Ohio State. It would be nice to reunite with him.”