Bengals Sign Former 1,000-Yard RB After NFL Draft: Report

Bengals sign UDFA running back Elijah Collins after NFL draft.

Getty The Cincinnati Bengals have come to terms with undrafted running back Elijah Collins after the NFL draft.

The Cincinnati Bengals finally added to the running back room after the NFL draft, agreeing to terms with former Michigan State starter and Oklahoma State transfer Elijah Collins.

Bleacher Report’s Ryan Fowler was the first to report the news on April 27, although it was later confirmed by KPRC2 NFL insider Aaron Wilson. Including a financial note.

“[The] Bengals deal for running back Elijah Collins includes [an] $8,000 signing bonus, per a league source,” Wilson informed. A little sweetener to secure the 6-foot ball carrier in Cincy.

Collins burst onto the scene as a freshman starter at Michigan State in 2019 (following a redshirt campaign). He put up over 1,000 scrimmage yards that season, with 988 of them coming on the ground (4.5 yards per carry). Collins also scored five touchdowns for the Spartans that year.

Unfortunately, things took a turn after that.

New Bengals UDFA Running Back Elijah Collins Struggled With Injuries & Opportunities After Freshman Season

There’s a reason Collins was passed up in the draft. He showed promise early in his college career, but there was a lack of production later on — whether due to injury or effectiveness.

Following his breakout year as a freshman, Collins put together a forgettable sophomore season amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The Michigan State playmaker’s yards per carry average dropped to a career-worst 2.2 YPC in 2020, with zero touchdowns and 124 scrimmage yards over seven appearances.

Then in 2021, it was an injury that slowed Collins. The ball carrier missed five outings that season, appearing in seven once again. This time, his yards per carry average was much better, however, with a career-best 5.7 YPC and one receiving touchdown — but the overall production was still down with fewer opportunities to go around.

After getting 222 carries in 2019, Collins didn’t log over 50 carries in a season until 2022, when he registered 70. In a bounce back campaign, the Spartan showed he could still carry the load with another 4.5 yards per carry and over 400 scrimmage yards.

Collins transferred to Oklahoma State after that, and his opportunities were lessened once again. Having said that, he often held his own in the yards per carry department with 4.5 YPC or more in every year outside of 2020.

Perhaps, that bit of consistency inspired the Bengals to take a look.

Collins ran a 4.51-second 40-yard dash at the Oklahoma State pro day according to Wilson. The RB also recorded a 38-inch vertical, 10’5″ broad jump, 4.25-second shuttle, 7.10-second three-cone drill and 16 reps on the bench.

Bengals RB Room Enters Post-Joe Mixon Era With Zack Moss at the Helm

Zack Moss was brought in to become the presumptive starter after the franchise moved on from long-time Bengals team leader Joe Mixon in 2024.

Behind Moss, it’s a similar room as last year though — excluding Collins as the newcomer.

2023 fifth rounder Chase Brown enters his second season in the league. As a rookie, the Illinois product was called upon 44 times on the ground with 179 yards and a YPC of just over four yards per carry.

Chris Evans, a sixth-round selection in 2021, is still with the franchise as well. His usage has tailed off significantly after registering 77 rushing yards and 151 receiving yards as a rookie.

Finally, the veteran of the group is now Trayveon Williams — another former sixth-round selection that has never contributed more than 157 rushing yards in a season.

Needless to say, there is certainly room for Collins to make a roster push inside this unit. Moss and Brown should head the depth chart in September, but the RB3 role could be up for grabs in training camp.

Of course, unseating staff favorites won’t be easy, but a strong summer could force some difficult decisions in Cincinnati.

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