Pros: Is a solid tackler that loves to come up and deliver big hit. Does a good job making stops in the open field. Works best in the box, but comfortable working in space. Has good ball skills and does a nice job reading the quarterback in the short zone. Has good hands for a defensive back and athletic. Can match up with tight ends in man coverage.
Cons: Not comfortable working deep centerfield and lacks the quickness or speed to match up with receivers in the slot. Tackles too high at times and will occasionally miss a stop in the open field. Can over pursue at times due to poor angles. Gets caught up in the trash in the box at times. Would struggle at the point of attack if he played linebacker.
Overview: Ellison is a tweener that is a similar player to his older brother, Keith, who plays for the Bills. He is adequate in coverage at safety, but fairly one-dimensional. He's undersized for linebacker, and would probably work best in a Tampa-2 scheme that likes to drop him into short zones a lot. Underwent arthroscopic knee surgery to repair torn cartilage and missed 5 games during the season. Also missed most of his freshman year with an injury to the same knee.
NFL Forecast: A guy like Tony Dungy would love to have him at outside linebacker. I think he'll probably be less of a project at linebacker than he is at safety. All he really needs to do at linebacker is bulk up a bit more. Safety, he'll never be more than a below average starter as far as his coverage abilities go, which can be exploited. He's basically a cover or nickel linebacker. But undersized and not sure he can stand the pounding of being an every-down linebacker. Bring him in on nickel and dime packages to play in the box and cover backs and tight ends. This makes him a fairly specific niche player. I like Ellison, he's a hard worker but he's not for everybody's scheme. And if he's put in the wrong scheme, he'll have trouble sticking much like former USC teammate Darnell Bing who was also a tweener. But I think Ellison can be a capable backup linebacker for a team, particularly if he excels on special teams.
ATL Forecast: Ellison probably fits more in line at linebacker in Atlanta than he does at strong safety. He offers speed and coverage potential as a reserve outside linebacker. But he would probably never be a starter. Just a guy the team keeps around because he is good on special teams and plays hard. Down the road, as he gets more comfortable playing linebacker, he could make a serviceable stopgap starter if someone was injured, but that's about it.
Value: Ellison is a good enough played that he could probably be worth a middle round pick, but his tweener status knocks him down to a late round pick. I'd probably take him in the sixth or seventh round as a linebacker.
Scouting Reports of inside and outside linebackers in the 2009 NFL Draft
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