Why Undrafted?: Elijah Holyfield

Why Undrafted?: Elijah Holyfield, RB, Georgia
By Charlie Campbell, @draftcampbell

Five years ago, we started a series of articles on why certain prospects went undrafted. In that series, I reach out to sources with NFL teams to find out why their organizations passed on drafting a given player, and/or, what were the reasons for other teams to pass on that prospect. We got a lot of positive reader feedback about the series, so we decided to expand in the genre to investigate why some prospects slid in the draft. Three years ago, we started the Why the Slide? series, and this year it is back. Feel free to email me requests for Why the Slide? and Why Undrafted? at [email protected]. I can’t promise to get to all of them, but I will do my best and definitely will respond to the email.

Georgia has been a factory for running back talent for the NFL throughout the history of the program and especially in recent years. Elijah Holyfield looked like he was going to be the next back to carry that tradition after bursting onto the scene in 2018 as the replacement for Nick Chubb. Holyfield averaged 6.4 yards per carry that season on only 159 attempts and totaled 1,018 yards with seven touchdowns while splitting the carries with D’Andre Swift. After his junior year, Holyfield decided to skip his senior year and enter the 2019 NFL Draft. He was projected as a mid-round pick who could sneak into the second day of the draft, but he slipped to the undrafted ranks.

Team sources say the reason Holyfield fell undrafted was a very slow 40 time. Many teams had him as a third-day pick, and after the slow 40, he fell through the draft. In speaking to some team sources, Holyfield was in the discussion for some of their third-day selections, but those ending up being used on other prospects.

Holyfield signed with the Carolina Panthers after going undrafted, and that is a great landing spot for him. Immediately, Holyfield can compete to be the primary backup running back to Christian McCaffrey. Carolina does not have a veteran who is established as the primary backup and did not sign one in free agency. Right away, Holyfield is a prime competitor with Jordan Scarlett and Cameron Artis-Payne as the No. 2 backup. Holyfield also is bigger than those two backs and offers more of a power change-of-pace skill set than they do when being combined with McCaffrey. Holyfield’s size also makes him a strong candidate to take on some short-yardage and goal-line duties. While Holyfield is probably disappointed about going undrafted, he signed in a perfect situation to break into the NFL and establish himself in an important role for the Panthers.

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