Position: Running back
Accolades: 2017 East-West Shrine Game Offensive MVP, 2016 All-Sun Belt 2nd Team, 2014 Sun Belt Player of the Year, 2014 Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year
It feels like Elijah McGuire, the hard-hitting power running back for the Ragin Cajuns, has haunted the Sun Belt since before the Sun Belt even played football. I can’t remember a season that didn’t include a desperate game plan to limit McGuire (thanks, beer). Truth is, there was no effective plan for stopping McGuire. If you loaded the box to stop the run, he’d simply turn himself into a sure-handed, fleet-footed receiver and beat you that way. McGuire’s sophomore season was stuff of legend, when he rumbled for 1,264 yards, added 468 yards receiving and totaled 16 TDs, leading Louisiana to a 9-4 season that led to another New Orleans Bowl victory. Since 2013, McGuire was the Cajuns’ offense.
Why NFL teams would be fools to pass on Elijah McGuire
McGuire finished his heralded Cajun career with 4,312 rushing yards and 42 punch-ins. He also contributed 1,383 receiving yards and 10 TDs. The guy is a multi-talented athlete who can hurt in multiple ways. McGuire was one of a handful of Sun Belt talents invited to the 2017 NFL Combine, where his pass-catching ability was noted by scouts.
If you’re unimpressed with McGuire’s football production, consider too that he also played 16 games off the bench this season for the Cajuns’ mens basketball squad. NFL loves them some hoops players.
Shame on you for even thinking Elijah McGuire has a downside.
Okay, listen, McGuire spend the entire 2016 season dealing with a nagging foot injury which likely dampened his stat line a bit. He still rushed for 1,100 yards, including 129 at Georgia. Still, some scouts have doubts:
McGuire has shown the ability to break a long run and be a home run threat, but he has room to improve his run tempo and decisiveness to better string together runs. He can be too patient at times, allowing the defense to swallow him up while he is waiting for a hole to open. He isn’t immune to the occasional drop.
Whatever, “scouts.” You weren’t there when McGuire destroyed South Alabama for 223 yards last year, or when he pounded 265 rushing yards on Arkansas State in 2014. Don’t draft McGuire at your own peril.
Where does Elijah McGuire land in the 2017 NFL Draft?
CBSSportsline.com ranks McGuire the 20th best back in the draft and sees his name called somewhere in the 6th. Because running backs have lost some luster as of late, that sounds right to me. But McGuire could be the best Sun Belt RB to arrive to the NFL since Alfred Morris.