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Justin Ellis, NT, Louisiana Tech: Strong 2-gap potential

Continuing the defensive tackle theme, with Ellis

Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

I really hadn't heard much of Justin Ellis before the college football all star circuit. All the Louisiana Tech defensive tackle did was dominate both weeks of practice at the East West Shrine game & Senior Bowl, causing me, and many others to go back to see just how good he really was.

Traits That Stood Out

  • Power to Hold up as a NT
  • Can Push the pocket with Bull Rush
  • Quick off of the snap
  • Can play up and down the defensive line
I've been preaching versatility, and it continues with Ellis. The 342 pound defensive tackle isn't just a "space eater" as you'd imagine. Sometimes Ellis seems like a true pass rushing defensive tackle the way he shoots gaps. He has good quickness when he is fresh, and has good power as well.


Ellis has the power to get up underneath lineman and walk them back into either the quarterback, or the running back on a run play.


What you'll notice when you watch Ellis is that he plays with good leverage on run plays. This will help him hold at the point of attack. While I think he's best when he can be aggressive, Ellis showed that he can handle a double teams. This might be better to harness his aggression, and I'll get into that later. But Ellis ate up double teams and allowed the linebackers behind him to have a free run at plays.

Where He Can Improve

  • Gap Discipline
  • Range/Motor
  • Using His Hands
Like the majority of college defensive lineman, Ellis has could really improve his hand usage. He gets too involved with the offensive lineman, instead of disengaging and getting to his target, whether it be the ball carrier or the QB. He shows that he has power in his hands, but there's no real counter or hand fighting you would like to see to keep himself clean as a pass rusher. He also doesn't make first contact enough. This is why he might start out as strictly a run defender until this develops.

It might sound silly to knock a 340 pound guy for his range. His motor is okay, but most big men take plays off, it could be better, let's just put it like that. While Ellis has the quickness to make plays ini tally that are in front of him, the quickness doesn't continue throughout the play. This is one of the main reasons he's not in that 1st tier, like yesterday's trio. Ellis strikes me has a guard to guard player, meaning he won't make plays outside of that restricted area.

My biggest beef with Ellis is his gap discipline. If I had to describe him, I would call him a nose tackle that wants to badly to be a 3 technique. Or, a Louis Nix that wants to be a Geno Atkins. He will get up field to far, and creating unnessacry running lanes.

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
Trait Weight Grade
Run Stopping 2 1.7
Hand Usage/placement 4 3.4
First Step 2 1.7
Tackling 2 2
Disengage 3 2.3
Read & React 2 1.6
Leverage/Strength 4 3.6
Pass Rush 2 1.2
Motor 2 1.5
Lateral Movement 2 1.3
Ellis grades out to a 7.3, or a mid to early 3rd round talent. He really holds up well against double teams, and plays with leverage. He has the power & initial quickness to be successful in the NFL. Issues are limited range, and he needs to be better with his hands. Ellis also needs to play within the system of what he's asked to do.

How He Fits as a Charger

Ellis would be a good fit if San Diego were to select him sometime on Day 3. Ellis could come in and alternate at nose tackle with Sean Lissemore, while he hones his skills as a pass rusher. If he is able to develop in that area, he can be a very good player. By playing limited snaps, you wouldn't have to worry about Ellis getting winded. He'd be a sure bet as a 2-gap player to let the players behind him back plays. I'm sure Donald Butler & Manti Te'o would approve of Ellis, who flashes, but isn't flashy.