Bruce Ellington: Upside, Upside, Upside

Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Continuing to look at some Day 3 options at receiver, the speedy Bruce Ellington

Bruce Ellington is that kid at your high school that's good at everything. At South Carolina, not only did he have 49 catches for almost 800 yards and 8 touchdowns, he also was the starting point guard on the basketball team. Ellington is a guy that it's pretty clear his best football is in front of him. Here's how he stacked up to other receivers at the combine.

Measurable Ellington Average WR at the Combine
Height 5'9 6'0.88
Weight 197 201
Hands 9 5/8" 9.34
40 yard dash 4.45 4.51
Vertical 39.5" 35.5
Broad Jump 120" 120"
3 Cone Drill 6.69 6.92
20 yard Shuttle 3.95 4.21

As far as the agility drills, Ellington is well above average, and that translates to his game play on the field, as he's one of the more elusive receivers I've watched. At his pro day, I had a friend there tell me that the Chargers were all over him. They also told me he made acrobatic catch after acrobatic catch.

Traits That Make You Think The Future Is Bright

  • Elusiveness
  • YAC Monster
  • Ability To Stretch The Field
  • Ball Skills
It's easy to look at the stat sheet and think Ellington can't be a #1/#2 receiver at the next level. The fact is South Carolina's offense was average and didn't really feature the talented Ellington like it should have. His ability to get yards after the catch and make people miss so subtly is incredible. The 4 games Ellington was a primary option, are on draft breakdown(thanks again) and you can see for yourself how good he is.

It's not even like it's "wow highlight worthy" type, Ellington is just very good at making people miss in tight spaces. He's a strong runner with good balance, and that allows him to maximize the yards he can get after the catch, by bouncing off defenders.

I'll get into his route running later, but one thing he can do, is stretch the field. Ellington can get and win vertical with pure athleticism.

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He's proven that he can simply accelerate past defensive backs.

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Ellington can win vertically both in the slot and as an outside receiver. His versatility is really his calling card. He was also the punt returner at South Carolina. Another area where he was able to show case his elusiveness.

Ellington can be successful at the next level because he attacks the ball in the air, will pluck the ball away from his frame, make catches in traffic, and adjust to the ball and finish downfield. All these fall under the term "ball skills", and that's an area that really stands out when you watch Ellington.

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I only counted 1 drop and there were very few "double catches." He's very good at tracking the ball over his shoulder as well. Ellington also will not gator arm balls when he knows he will get hit.

Where He Must Improve to Suceed

  • Develop as a Route Runner
  • Better on the Fly Awareness
There aren't a great deal of flaws with Ellington. I can nit pick, and say he holds the ball like Antonio Gates, where it gets away from his frame and can lead to fumbles, but it isn't an issue to this point. The most important area Ellington needs to develop is post snap. He can't continue to rely on his athleticism to create separation, he also needs to run better routes.

Ellington didn't face much press coverage, so he was able to win in college because he was simply more explosive than the defender across from him. In the NFL, he'll need to set defenders up much better than he does now. I think because he was used so much in the slot this effected him. He also didn't run the full route tree, so he wasn't able to develop much in that area. Ellington just kind of rolled into his routes, there wasn't any setting up the corner to create separation. It was purely winning with his athleticism.

Post snap, sometimes Ellington was late to adjust what the defense did. There were times he was too late to recognize what the linebackers were doing and didn't know where to sit down in the soft spot in zone coverage. This is likely an experience issue, and something that can be developed. I don't question that he can't, but I didn't see him enough to say that he'll be able to beat press coverage at the next level. His short area quickness certainly hits that it won't be an issue.

Grade/Final Thought

Multiple Pro Bowl Player, Top 10 8.5 – 9.0
Highly Productive Starter, 1st Round 8.0 – 8.4
Very Good Starter, Early 2nd Round 7.8 – 7.9
Reliable Starter, 2nd Round 7.5 – 7.7
Potential Starter in Year 2, 3rd Round 7.0 – 7.4
Backup/Spot Starter, 4th Round 6.5 – 6.9
Productive Backup, 5th Round 6.0 – 6.4
Very Good Backup/STs, 6th Round 5.5 – 5.9
Quality Backup/Good STs, 7th Round 5.0 – 5.4
Backup/STs/Project Player, 7th Round 4.5 – 4.9
Priority Free Agent w/ Limitations 4.0 – 4.4
Non-Draftable


Trait Weight Grade
Route Running 4 3
Speed 2.5 2.4
Hands 3 2.7
Ball Skills 3 2.8
YAC Ability 2 2
Effort 2 1.7
Blocking 2 1.5
Separation Skills 2 1.8
Awareness 2.5 1.5
Athleticism 2 1.9


Ellington grades out in the late 2nd round area, around the 7.5-7.6 range. He'll likely get pushed down due to his size/depth at the position in the draft. He's incredibly explosive, and has the ball skills combined with the elusiveness to develop into a very good weapon. He will just need to add some substance to his routes. If he can do that, the sky is truly the limit for Ellington, who has all the upside in the world.

How He Fits as a Charger

Only 5'9, but I do believe Ellington could be that "Z" receiver opposite of Keenan Allen. He would be protected from press coverage as he's off the line, and be able to win with his impressive short area quickness. He has no fear going over the middle, and that's big for what San Diego asks their receivers to do. He would also provide a much needed speed dimension that the offense is lacking on the perimeter. He's not the prototypical jump ball receiver that it seems Philip Rivers has always had at his disposal, but Ellington is certainly a player who can make highlight catches and make plays down the field. If San Diego waits until the 3rd round to select a receiver, Ellington would be a very nice choice.
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