Andre Ellington will have a new position in 2017.
Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said Wednesday at the Annual League Meeting that Ellington will be a wide receiver this season and would move to the wideout meeting room, per Darren Urban of the team's official website.
The slightly built, 5-foot-9 Ellington spent his first four seasons in Arizona as a running back, but proved to be better in the passing game than run game. In the one season the Cards tried to make Ellington the featured back, he dealt with injuries and proved to be inefficient between the tackles. After 201 totes in 2014, he saw just 45 carries in 2015 and 34 last season as David Johnson took over the every-down role.
Ellington has speed in open space and can catch the ball -- 112 receptions in four seasons -- but how he translates to running routes as a receiver and his ability to beat press coverage remains to be seen. His build is already in line with the fast, smallish receivers that clutter the Cardinals' wideout corps -- John Brown (5-foot-10), J.J. Nelson (5-foot-10).
Moving Ellington, who signed a one-year deal to remain in Arizona, to receiver is a way to get him on the field as Johnson gobbles up the backfield snaps.
With Larry Fitzgerald a year closer to retirement, the Cardinals should still be in the market for a big-bodied wideout and red-zone target in the upcoming draft, as well as a backup running back for Johnson.
Ellington's position switch means Johnson will keep his stranglehold on backfield snaps, which Arians is not shying away from.
"He's still too young to over-use," Arians said of Johnson.