Why Ellington is on the list
Watching Ellington on Game Rewind, his style pops off the screen. He possesses uncanny shiftiness at the point of contact, great balance in the hole, tackle-breaking ability, good speed and can pop off at any moment.
Big plays were Ellington's forte thanks to an ability to shed tackles. According to Pro Football Focus, Ellington earned a league-qualifying high of 47.9 percent of his yards on 15-plus yard runs due to his elusiveness and ability to create yards after contact.
The Cardinals back is not afraid of contact, though his build might suggest otherwise. He takes on tacklers when necessary and doesn't dance in holes trying to hit a home run every play.
You should probably go back and watch that video again. I'll wait....
Had your fill yet? OK, let's move forward.
Ellington is perhaps an even more dangerous weapon in the passing game. His ability to split wide is something Arians often utilized, especially down the stretch when the Cardinals' offense got rolling. Ellington is a menace out of the backfield for linebackers trying to track him, and he showed a better understanding of route-running as the season progressed.
Ellington put on 10 pounds in the offseason in anticipation of the heavier workload, but injuries are always a concern. He had toe and ankle surgeries in college, suffered a concussion last offseason, missed a game in 2013 with an injured knee and battled a thigh injury late last season. Still, his build is not unlike that of Chris Johnson and Jamaal Charles, who have proven to be durable.
Questions remain about his ability to protect the passer. With Arians preferring to send him on routes, Ellington wasn't asked to stay in and protect much -- only 21 times did he pass-block for the quarterback, per Pro Football Focus. As an everyday starter he'll have to show a willingness and ability to take on those duties.
Also, quit with the dropped passes, Andre!
Expectations for 2014
An improved offensive line (the Cardinals were one of the worst units in football last season) should provide more opportunities for Ellington to burst into the secondary where he can gallop in open grass.
How big of a workload is Arians willing to heap on the running back? While the coach suggested Ellington could take 30 carries if needed, Arians is a self-admitted liar. Still, an uptick to 220 to 230 carries (an average of 14 carries per game) and 45 to 55 catches (3.5 per game) would be a massive increase in the runner's workload.
Even if his flamboyant 5.5 yards-per-carry average dips due to the boosted burden, an 1,100-yard rushing season and 550-yard receiving season splashed with highlight-reel plays is not unattainable and would be a monumental boon for the Cardinals' pass-first offense.