As we’ve done in years past, we’re going to start up our Roster Countdown series of posts as we get ready for the regular season.
Background: Originially from Jamaica, Ellis moved to Florida when he was about eleven. In high school, Ellis became an All-State defensive tackle. As a senior, Ellis had 67 tackles, 10 sacks and blocked two kicks despite having the season cut to only eight games due to hurricanes. College recruiting writers called him the best defensive tackle of the area since Vince Wilfork. While he received many offers, Ellis decided to play in the SEC with South Carolina. While the reasons were never specified, in the spring after his first season, Ellis was dismissed from South Carolina after being suspended from the first three games of the 2008 season. Ellis chose to transfer to Hampton where he played two seasons earing All-MEAC honors during both years. While he was a four-star recruit out of high school who went to an SEC program, Ellis was not considered a top NFL Draft prospect because of his dismissal and due to a pending felony assualt charge at the time of the Draft. Before his second season, Ellis served part of his sentence and then served the remainder of his sentence in early 2013 at the conclusion of the 2012 season. During that second portion, Ellis participated in a work-release program that allowed him to work with the Hampton football coaches.
As a player, Ellis is surprisingly agile and a lot of his first two years with the team have been about the coaches polishing him up for the pro game. Coming into the league he needed to better understand how to use his leverage and how to stay low through contact with a blocker. While he might be viewed as a classic 3-4 nose tackle he’ll be able to offer some disruption of the pocket when necessary.
2013 Projection: Now free and clear from those charges, the Jets are planning on relying on Ellis extensively in his third year. The Jets must think him capable of the role since they’ve moved on from Sione Pouha, who was one of the league’s best run-stopping nose tackles — when healthy. Ellis will is slated to be the team’s starting nose, and our guess is that the team will use him on early downs and might move him off the field for guys like Garay and/or Richardson in passing situations. Ellis has an element of disruption that is certainly an upgrade from Sione Pouha, but there might be a bit of a lag in the team’s overall run stuffing up the middle while Ellis addressing the learning curve of being a full-time starter and not just a replacement. On the whole though, expect good things from Ellis with such a potent line around to help him out. Ellis is quick and fiercely strong, which should command some double teams to help free up others around him.