Who is he? In my view he is a prototypical playmaker. At base value, a playmaker makes something of nothing or maximizes opportunities. His production is rare in more than one discipline. Playmaker is a term that has been around forever in all of team sports but, has been compartmentalized to specific disciplines. The failure to appreciate and celebrate these diverse gifts that move beyond known norms are astounding. Why does the modern NFL have such a hard time adapting to this idea?
Deebo Samuel is the closest modern example that I can think of that reflects the NFL's, media's and fan's willingness to step outside of the position player box and recognize a playmakers ability. They were even searching for names to call it. Wideback or whatever that was. I called it "Coin me the phrase". That's because there was nothing new and people wanted credit for things that already existed. Like some explorers who shall remain without name here.
Austin Ekeler is a playmaker and there can't be a reasonable doubt against that idea. He's a machine in fantasy and a touchdown go to. From a running back purist perspective, he's not the best. But, he's out-paced the durability questions that I've heard so much about here at home. He's done that in spectacular fashion. Here's snapshot of his strength and weaknesses.
- Great short area burst
- Doesn't wait to be tackled. (No dancing or doesn't do the Charleston)
- Closes the gap on a defender in a hurry with speed and aggression.
- Reaches said defender and makes him miss. (Fineness my fine folks)
- He can catch any ball that's reasonable to catch.
- When he catches a ball in space, he can create YAC due to his defender awareness.
- He is invaluable as an outlet. Keep in mind that outlet does not mean a habit. The play book has to be more diverse than that.
- He gets lost in crowds and that is more valuable than one might think.
- Can break one on one tackles and, at times, fool would-be tacklers into thinking that they took him down.
- He fumbles in key situations. Even if they were random in goal-to-go, it happened.
- Not stout enough to be a true 25 + carry per game guy. This point is becoming more and more subjective as most teams fall outside of that philosophy.
- Those little short legs have to do the "little engine that could" if he breaks away.
- Can't get out of a backfield iso if caught there.