Here's what San Francisco 49ers are getting in Ragin Cajuns' Elijah Mitchell in 2021 NFL Draft
Mitchell took a big step toward reaching it when he was taken by the San Francisco 49ers in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL Draft on Saturday.
“That’s something I always wanted since I was small,” he said during his pro day in March. “It’s just crazy how it’s starting to turn into a reality now.”
Here’s what San Francisco is getting in Mitchell, UL’s No. 6 all-time rushing leader:
Mitchell has legit speed, evidenced by his pro day 40-yard dash time in the 4.32- to 4.38-second range.
He's a potential three-down back who has enough pass-catching ability to make him a mismatch out of the backfield.
“Elijah Mitchell has elite ball skills,” Cajuns running backs coach Jabbar Juluke said.
“It’s really natural,” coach Billy Napier added. “(He) not only caught the underneath stuff well, but tracked the ball down the field really well.”
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Compared favorably to former Alabama running back Kenyan Drake of the Las Vegas Raiders, Mitchell also can contribute as a kickoff returner like he did with the Cajuns.
Measured at 5-foot-11, he trimmed down about 17 pounds to 201 to boost his pro day 40 time. But carrying around 215 for added punch, without losing much speed, shouldn’t prove problematic.
Mitchell was limited to five games as a freshman because of a Lisfranc foot fracture.
But his pass blocking skills might be the biggest knock.
Napier said Mitchell is “very capable,” but he “probably will have to adjust at the next level from a protection standpoint.”
Then there’s the issue of the level at which he played.
Mitchell was a 2020 first-team All-Sun Belt Conference pick, but doing it against mostly Group of Five competition is one thing and proving it in the NFL is another.
All 12 of his 100-plus-yard rushing efforts came against Group of Five teams, including 127 against Texas-San Antonio in the 2020 First Responder Bowl, 164 last season at Georgia State and five such games in 2019.
Mitchell did gain 93 yards on 12 carries at Alabama in 2018 and averaged 6.2 yards per carry over his career. But he averaged just 3.6 per carry in five games against Power 5 opponents.
Mitchell has the mental makeup, physical attributes and work ethic to stick in the NFL.
He’ll have to show he can take the pro game pounding and that he can perform against the best of the best.
But with 3,267 career yards in four seasons and 41 career rushing touchdowns, Mitchell has shown he deserves the shot.