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Ezekiel Elliott is the best RB in the NFL Draft, and he's even dangerous without the ball

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Ezekiel Elliott's ability to block makes him valuable on every offensive snap.

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Ezekiel Elliott will almost certainly be the first running back off the board in the 2016 NFL Draft, but it's not just the Ohio State product's ability when the ball is in his hands that makes him such a valuable addition. He's also lauded for his ability to keep defenders away from his teammates.

"I value blocking more than anything," Elliott told reporters at the NFL Combine in February. "When I first started playing football I was a fullback, my first job was to block. When I first got to Ohio State I realized I wasn't going to be the biggest or fastest guy, I was only 17 playing with a bunch of 22- and 21-year-old guys, so I was trying to find something that would set me apart. And that day I realized it was just effort.

"Not everyone is willing to go out there and play with a lot of effort. And blocking is another thing that running backs aren't really willing to do. That's a part of my game. I really made it important to me to become very good at."

Elliott succeeded at becoming very good at it. According to Pro Football Focus, Elliott never allowed a sack, hit or hurry in the 103 times he was asked to pass block in 2015. Sometimes his ability to block left other Ohio State players with nothing to do, like when he took Notre Dame's All-American defensive lineman Sheldon Day away from left tackle Taylor Decker in the Fiesta Bowl:

But Elliott's pass blocking didn't yield a highlight reel of pancakes. Instead, most pass-blocking snaps for Elliott are rather forgettable. While lunging into a blitzer a la Maurice Jones-Drew on Shawne Merriman is the best way to make it on SportsCenter, Elliott is so successful as a pass blocker because of his patience.

Play after play at Ohio State, he just sat back, squared up a pass rusher and then stoned him with ease:

If there are highlights of Elliott's blocking, it's usually the work he did in space as a run blocker. On Braxton Miller's flashy spin-move touchdown against Virginia Tech, Elliott managed to spring the receiver by completely taking out two separate defenders. Given a head of steam, he also had no problem running through defenders or chopping down more athletic ones in space.

"If there's a pass play most running backs can't block, Zeke picks up every block, he goes down the field 20 yards to cut-block the safety," Ohio State safety Tyvis Powell told Ralph Russo of the Associated Press. "In practice we don't cut block each other, but he has let me know it's coming down. He comes flying down and he's telling me, 'Oooo, Tyvis I got you now.' I'm like, 'You're right.' When I see him on the next level, I know what it is. He know I know. I know he know I know."

In an era where fewer running backs get selected early in the NFL Draft, Elliott is considered a surefire first-round pick. That has plenty to do with the burst and evasiveness that led to eye-popping stats -- 6.3 yards per carry and 23 touchdowns in 2015 -- but his completeness as a running back adds tremendously to his value.

While many running backs are only a weapon when the ball is in their hands, Elliott's ability to block and keep blitzers off of quarterbacks makes him a player who is valuable to have on the field for every offensive snap.