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Ezekiel Elliott believes he can be three-down running back in NFL

INDIANAPOLIS -- Ezekiel Elliott still wants the ball.

But he wants more than that. He wants a place among the current generation of younger NFL running backs who are returning the position to prominence, alongside St. Louis' Todd Gurley and others.

Elliott, a former Ohio State star, said he plans to run the 40-yard dash at this week's NFL scouting combine and believes he is the best running back in the 2016 draft.

"I think the thing that sets me apart is just my versatility," said Elliott, who is aiming for the 4.4-to-4.5-second range in the 40. "I'm a guy that can play three downs. You don't have to take me off the field. I value blocking more than anything. I obviously love to run the ball, and I think I have great hands out of the backfield."

Elliott punctuated a stellar college career with 363 yards and six touchdowns in his final two games, which came after he lobbied for more touches and questioned play calling following a loss to Michigan State. Elliott finished that loss with 12 rushes for 33 yards. The Buckeyes were cautious with Elliott because of a staph infection suffered earlier in the week.

Teams will inevitably ask Elliott about the comments, and he has his response ready.

"I'll tell them I've grown up a lot since then," Elliott said. "That was a great learning moment for me. I was emotional. What teams want is a competitor, and that's what I am. That's where that came from."

Elliott rushed for nearly 3,700 yards and 41 touchdowns in his last two seasons at Ohio State. He's considered a likely first-round pick. Alabama running back Derrick Henry also could go in the top two rounds.

Growing up in St. Louis, Elliott was a huge Marshall Faulk fan. Faulk is now helping Elliott prepare for the draft process. Elliott said he wants to play like the running back greats before him and be part of the "younger generation coming up."

Said Elliott of the state of the running back position: "I think we're going to bring it back."