Ezekiel Elliott: Critical comments came from competitiveness

INDIANAPOLIS -- Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott showed some regret Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine regarding his critical comments about the OSU coaching staff and his lack of carries in the Buckeyes' crucial loss to rival Michigan State on Nov. 21.

But he wasn't altogether apologetic, either.

Elliott instead pointed out that his competitive nature, something NFL clubs should embrace about the 2016 NFL Draft's top-rated running back, was at the root of his remarks. He was asked how he would handle questions about the postgame outburst when he goes through personal interviews with NFL club personnel at the combine this week.

"I'll tell (teams) that I've grown up a lot since then. That was a great learning moment for me. I was emotional, but I think what (NFL) teams want is a competitor, and that's what I am, and that's where it all came from," Elliott said.

If mock drafts are any indication, NFL clubs certainly aren't holding Elliott's comments against him. All five NFL Media analysts who have posted mock drafts project Elliott to be the first running back picked, ranging anywhere from the No. 10 overall pick (New York Giants) to the Houston Texans at No. 22. Along with being an accomplished rusher, Elliott is known to be a reliable receiver and a very aggressive blocker, giving him the well-rounded skill set that would be demanded of a first-round pick.

He rushed for 1,821 yards and 23 touchdowns for the Buckeyes as a junior last year, but carried just 12 times for 33 yards in OSU's lone regular-season loss, 17-14 to the Spartans, which eliminated Ohio State from College Football Playoff contention.

If he's a first-round pick as expected, a lack of carries shouldn't be a problem again anytime soon.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter *@ChaseGoodbread*.

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