Can Kenrick Ellis Finally Move On Following His Legal Resolution?

Yesterday, New York Jets defensive lineman, and former 3rd round pick, Kenrick Ellis pleaded guilty to assault and battery charges that have been stemming from a 2010 incident at Ellis’s former place of education, Hampton University. According to his attorney, Ellis will likely serve 45 days in a Virginia prison beginning on June 15th of this year, which will cause him to miss the opening days of training camp. Although this legal issue is unfortunately going to cost him some training and practice time, the resolution to this case could be just what Ellis needs to finally propel his NFL career and fulfill his vast potential.

Coming out of John I. Leonard High School in Lake Worth, Florida, Ellis was regarded as a 4 star prospect, according to scout.com, and was widely considered to be the best defensive tackle prospect from the Lake Worth area since Patriots All-Pro Vince Wilfork. In his final two seasons in high school, Ellis tallied 139 tackles and 24 sacks, while earning scholarship offers from Rutgers, Tennessee, South Carolina, Michigan, Michigan State, and North Carolina.

After finally deciding to become a member of the Gamecocks, Ellis redshirted his freshman season, before recording 11 tackles the following year. With a promising collegiate career seeming inevitable, Ellis was unfortunately reprimanded for repeated violations of both university and team policies, and transferred to Hampton University in Virginia. In his final two seasons as a Pirate, Ellis recorded an amazing 30 tackles for loss, which, considering his immense size (6’5” 346 lbs) is tremendous.

With Ellis having the legal case lingering over him heading into the NFL Draft, he dropped to the 3rd round, despite his great potential, where he was eventually selected by the Jets with the 94th overall pick. Since becoming a member of the green and white, Ellis, who is a native of Jamaica, has constantly had fears of jail time and even the possibility of deportation hanging over his head. The resolution to this case that has been pending for nearly two years should finally give Ellis some closure, and allow him to move on with his NFL career, without being weighed down by his troubled past.

Once he is released from prison, presumably in late July/early August, Ellis will surely be around the right guys to ensure his character develops where it needs to be in order for him to accentuate his abilities as a player. Fellow Jets Defensive Lineman Marcus Dixon is no stranger to legal trouble. In 2003, Dixon, coincidentally a fellow Hampton University Alumni, was found guilty of statutory rape in Georgia and was sentenced to a maximum of 10 years in prison. After serving about a year of his sentence, the supreme court overturned the case, and Dixon was released and able to continue his NFL career. If there is anyone fitted to mentor Ellis on leaving his troubled past behind him, while focusing on moving forward, it is certainly Marcus Dixon.

Ellis’s situation is surely not the first case of an NFL player having to serve jail time in between seasons. In 2009, the Giants’ Ahmad Bradshaw served 31 days in prison to complete a 60-day sentence he faced as a result of a petty larceny charge he attained while attending the University of Marshall in 2006. Similar to Ellis, Bradshaw began his collegiate career at the larger University of Virginia, but was dismissed following an underage drinking arrest in 2004. In the three seasons since serving his jail sentence, Bradshaw has rushed for 2,672 yards and 24 touchdowns, while playing a vital role in the Giants’ most recent Super Bowl run. The Jets would be ecstatic to see Ellis provide a similar level of production following the resolution to his legal troubles.

The key for Ellis’s success will be his ability to buy into the workman’s mentality that is prevalent on the Jets’ Defensive Line. Led by current Nose Tackle Sione Pouha, Ellis has an excellent veteran mentor to learn from in terms of play, character, work ethic, and leadership. Combine that with the constant exposure he will have to blue collar guys like Dixon, Mike DeVito, and Mohammed Wilkerson, and Ellis should have no problem developing into the player the Jets envisioned him to be when they selected him in last year’s draft. Physically, the potential is sky high. Now, Ellis must prove that he can be mature enough to handle the responsibilities of an NFL player and teammate.

TOJ New York Jets 12 Pack: The Comeback Year

TOJ looks at 12 New York Jets who need to have bounce back seasons for the team to improve this season

Assuming the New York Jets don’t make any more major moves this off-season, it appears they will be relying on much of their improvement to come from within their current roster and whatever draft picks they add. What players in particular will need to bounce back from a rough 2011 season to take the Jets from 8-8 and out of the playoffs, to back to 11-5 and the AFC Championship Game (and hopefully beyond)? In descending order of importance…

12. Kenrick Ellis – The Jets didn’t get anything from him in his redshirt season. If he can play to his potential in his second year, the Jets will have a huge addition to their defensive line rotation that will help stop the run and push the pocket on the passer.

11. Antonio Cromartie – He didn’t have a bad year in 2011 but also didn’t have a great one. We are still waiting to see a playmaker who can pull in more than 4 interceptions in a season and maybe create a defensive touchdown or two.

10. Bryan Thomas – Thomas missed the bulk of last season with an ACL injury. Even if the Jets spend a first round pick at outside linebacker, they will need Thomas to mentor him and on running downs. He is a valuable veteran who is productive in Rex Ryan’s defense.

9. Mike DeVito – He missed 4 games last season and battled injuries all season. DeVito is a big part of the Jets run defense and the Jets need him healthy and productive for all 16 games next season.

8. Eric Smith – Hopefully after the draft, Smith will be relegated to being a role player on defense. Yet, you can be assured he will see significant time on defense next season and when he is on the field, the Jets need him to limit the big plays and at minimum be a sure tackler. This team really needs help at safety.

7. Bart Scott – Scott’s value has always been stopping the run, being a sure tackler, and providing leadership on the field. He did none of that last season, missing a ton of tackles and creating issues in the locker room over his lack of playing time. Scott claims to be refocused and lighter this year, we’ll see if that translates to him playing like he did in 2009 and 2010.

6. Shonn Greene – He didn’t have an inspiring 1,000 yard season in 2011. Greene must do a better job of breaking tackles and occasionally popping a big play. He averaged 5.0 yards per carry as a rookie and has since fell down to 4.1 in 2010 and 4.2 in 2011. The Jets need that number to get closer to 5 again.

5. Calvin Pace – At the amount of money he is making, 4.5 sacks isn’t cutting it. The Jets should give him some support on passing downs with their first round pick and Aaron Maybin in his second year so Pace shouldn’t see many, if any double teams. Regardless of his production against the run, the Jets need 7-9 sacks from him.

4. Wayne Hunter/Vladimir Ducasse – As of right now, they are battling to be the starting right tackle. We can only hope Tony Sparano and his new system can move Hunter from being awful to mediocre or that Ducasse with a full off-season under his belt at right tackle can show some of the signs of why he was a second round pick.

3. Santonio Holmes – The Jets paid him to be their number one receiver and he didn’t perform like one. Some of that was on Brian Schottenheimer and some of that was on Mark Sanchez, yet a share of blame goes to Holmes who dropped his share of passes and couldn’t consistently beat double teams. If Holmes can produce like he did in 2010 when he returned from suspension, the Jets offense will be in much better shape.

2. D’Brickashaw Ferguson – The Jets Pro-Bowl left tackle didn’t play like one last season. His struggles combined with Wayne Hunter’s incompetence left Mark Sanchez constantly under pressure. Brick must return to his regular level of play, particularly if Hunter remains as the right tackle.

1. Mark Sanchez – On the whole Sanchez didn’t have anywhere near the awful year that is portrayed by the mainstream media. However, he did something he had never done so far in his career…he struggled in the games that were the most important. Most notably, the final three games of the season. Sanchez is without question the most important factor in the Jets success this season. If he struggles, their season is going to turn into a quarterback controversy circus and Tim Tebow will be overextended as a full time quarterback. If he plays well, they have a shot to be a contender and Tebow can thrive as a role player.

Young Pups Could Lead To Big Second Half For New York Jets Defense

TOJ on the development of the younger players on the New York Jets defense and how it could lead to a second half improvement

The New York Jets defense has problems and shortcomings, as any unit in the NFL does. However, thanks to Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine’s ability to gameplan on a weekly basis they can still come up with big time performances, which will allow the Jets to remain a playoff contender throughout the rest of the year.

One of the other reasons for optimism with the Jets defense in their final nine games is the development of their young players.

Let’s start with the defensive line, which has quickly been rebuilt for the long haul. First round draft pick Muhammad Wilkerson has put together a strong start to the year, particularly with his showings against Jacksonville, Baltimore, and San Diego. Third round pick Kenrick Ellis has shown potential in his limited role and should get more reps as the season moves on. Beyond that both Ropati Pitoitua and Marcus Dixon are quality rotational players to support Sione Pouha and Mike DeVito, who should still have their best years in front of them.

At linebacker, the Jets are sorely lacking speed. Josh Mauga and Jamaal Westerman are platooning as replacements for Bryan Thomas at outside linebacker and both have taken their lumps. Yet, Westerman has shown some of the pass rush ability the coaching staff has talked up with 2.5 sacks and Mauga should get better as the season progresses. Beyond that, Aaron Maybin has been a revelation with 3 sacks and 3 forced fumbles in only four games with very limited reps. His role will continue grow and he just may be the double digit sack guy the Jets have been looking for.

In the secondary, outside of Darrelle Revis putting together another monster season the most encouraging thing has been the growth of Kyle Wilson. The Jets 2010 first round pick is substantially improved in his second year and is turning into a very good nickel back, which is a key spot in Ryan’s defense.

In the long term, the Jets will need more young talent, particularly at safety and linebacker. However, they do have enough this year to make that run Rex Ryan talked about in his most recent press conference.

Two New York Jets With Unique Arrivals Bring Speed & Power To Defense

TJ on the impact of Aaron Maybin and Kenrick Ellis on the New York Jets defense

Aaron Maybin’s strips and sack of Dolphins QB Matt Moore Monday night provided a speed in pursuit the Jets sorely needed from the LB position. Big Kenrick Ellis blasted through the Dolphins line to stuff a key Miami rushing attempt by the goal line. These two first year Jets, both arriving with different suitcases full of baggage, could be the keys to injecting this slow starting defense with the production it needs to return to being one of the NFL’s best.

Maybin, a former Penn State Nittany Lion, started only one game in two seasons for the Buffalo Bills after having been selected 11th overall in the 2009 draft. Maybin told Bob Wischusen on 1050 ESPN Tuesday night that with all due respect to the Bills organization, “it was hard to make plays” while not being on the field. Maybin is making plays as a Jet. His tag as a top round “bust” may soon turn to “steal” should his quality play continue.

After making the 53 player roster out of camp, Maybin was surprisingly released only days later. His return came in Baltimore after being re signed prior to the matchup with the Ravens. Jets fans got a glimpse of what could be when he hunted down QB Joe Flacco, causing a fumble in Ravens territory. At a time in the game when the Jets were in position to continue their comeback.

The opportunity was wasted one play later when Mark Sanchez threw an interception to Lardarius Webb that resulted in a 73 yard return for TD. It was a play that essentially sealed the game, but the play by Maybin was one that turned many Jets fans heads. Finally, some devastating speed had arrived.

Maybin’s play picked up again Monday night as he forced two fumbles and sacked Matt Moore once. This “Mayhem” style that seems predicated on spying behind the Jets defensive line, may bring the Jets more short fields to work with going forward. A concept that will be music to the ears of the Jets who are still searching for an identity on offense, and can use all the help they can get.

Ellis, whose draft stock dropped due to his facing a felony charge in a case that has been moved to Feb 7th, 2012, was a risk that for now could pay off in 2011. The third round pick out of Hampton was finally activated for the first time Monday night to the delight of Jets nation.

Should his size and presence help plug a run defense that has been burned by many running backs so far this season, perhaps the Jets will once again, be able to force opposing teams into third and more long situations. A scenario that would be welcome by head coach Rex Ryan and his blitz packages.

The Jets are giving up close to 22 points a game this year, up from 19 a game last season. Maybin and Ellis could help return this team to a place where less is asked of Mark Sanchez and company. If so, the Jets could once again base their foundation off of the defense. This way the offense and special teams could also go back to lending a key hand without being elevated into the primary provider role . A formula that allowed the Jets to win enough games to earn a trip to the postseason in both years under Ryan.

New York Jets: 10 Up, 10 Down

Ten New York Jets trending up, and ten New York Jets trending down

Up – Wayne Hunter

After an ugly start that had most of us clamoring for Damien Woody, Hunter has settled down and put together back to back solid performances, including a terrific one on Monday Night against Cameron Wake. Nobody ever expected Hunter to be a Pro-Bowl caliber player but if he can find some consistency and be an average starter, the Jets will at least have a year or two to find a long term replacement.

Down – Shonn Greene

I have always believed that if given the opportunity Shonn Greene could be a quality feature back. Through six games, Greene is making me reconsider that thought process. He needs to start breaking a few big runs, so his 21 carries for 71 yards could start looking like 21 carries for 115 yards. If he continues to be this sluggish, look for more carries for LaDainian Tomlinson and Joe McKnight down the stretch and then look for Mike Tannenbaum to make a strong play for Matt Forte or Maurice Jones-Drew this off-season.

Up – Joe McKnight

The new Brad Smith, who finds a way to make a few big plays each week either on offense or special teams. He should receive a bigger role as both a running back and receiver moving forward. When is the last time you heard anyone mention Leon Washington or Danny Woodhead by the way?

Down – Plaxico Burress

By everybody’s admission, he isn’t on the same page as Mark Sanchez yet which is somewhat understandable. However, the sulking on the field isn’t helping anyone. The question of if Burress is going to become a consistent weapon down the stretch, will go a long way to determining how serious of a playoff contender the Jets are.

Up – Aaron Maybin

His skill set is very raw, as basically all he could is speed rush. However, he is always going 100 miles per hour and has a natural ability to create turnovers as he seems to force a fumble every time he makes a tackle. He is a good project to continue developing in this defense and should create more plays as the season progresses.

Down – Matthew Mulligan/Patrick Turner

A symbol of Brian Schottenheimer’s problems as  aplay caller, as they are dead give aways to the Jets running the football. The problem is that neither seem to provide much of a threat as a pass catcher and the only impact plays I can remember from them is dropped passes by both them and the occasional holding call on Mulligan.

Up – Jamaal Westerman

He has finally broke through with 2.5 sacks in the past 2 games, providing the pass rush the coaching staff expected this off-season. However, Westerman still must become a complete player and set the edge better in the running game, as do all the Jets linebackers and ends.

Down – Mark Sanchez

Sanchez hasn’t been quite as bad as some will lead you to believe. Yet, his continued struggles with accuracy and slow starts remains frustrating to watch. The good news is that he has avoided turnovers the past two weeks but this offense needs more from him, especially in this critical upcoming three game stretch of games.

Up – Kenrick Ellis

The rookie third round pick was finally active last week and made a noticeable impact along the defensive line. Considering the Jets struggles stopping the run, expect to see much more Ellis moving forward. There is no questioning his talent but can he continue to improve in Rex Ryan’s system?

Down – Antonio Cromartie

He has been way, way too inconsistent this season. Cromartie should be as charged up as possible (no pun intended) for this Sunday, so hopefully he can begin to display some type of steadiness in the number two corner spot.

Up – Kyle Wilson

Wilson has quietly put together a much improved second year, highlighted by the job he did against Davone Bess in the slot last week. His role on the defense should only continue to grow and you feel like it is only a matter of time until he starts turning in some interceptions and sacks.

Down – Eric Smith

I am still not convinced he is anywhere near capable of being a full time starter at safety. His shortcomings in coverage are too much to overcome, particularly next to Jim Leonhard who already struggles in coverage.

Up – Nick Folk/TJ Conley

Nick Folk hasn’t missed a kick yet this year. Conley has been steady, which is saying something for the Jets punter position in previous years.

Down – Donald Strickland

It has been frustrating to see him injured again and not make much an impact when given the reps early in the year. With Wilson continuing to improve, I don’t see him having much of a role down the stretch.

Up – LaDainian Tomlinson

You have to expect a big game from Tomlinson this week against San Diego, right? LT has continued to be more productive with the football in his hands than any other running back on the team. If Greene continues to struggle, look for the Jets to lean more on Tomlinson down the stretch.

Down – Brodney Pool

I thought he could provide some support in pass coverage considering the shortcomings of Smith and Leonhard at the position. However, he hasn’t been much better and also been missing tackles all over the field in the running game.

Up – David Harris

So far Harris has been more active around the football than he was in 2010. Through six games, he has 33 tackles, an interception, 3 passes defensed, and 2 sacks.

Down – The Trips Wide Formation

There always seems to be a point in each game, where the Jets bunch three of receivers and split them out exceptionally wide. They proceed to always run the football out of the formation and opposing defenses know it. Once…I have seen the Jets run a bubble screen out of this for a 1 yard gain. It is time to can it.

Up – John Conner

The Terminator had been fairly quiet this year but has seen his usage increase in recent weeks. He had a crushing block on kick return to start the game last week and looked more efficient in the running game. Now, if he could only catch…

Down – The General Consensus On This Team

I think the win over Miami and the way it occurred may have put even more people down on this team than their three losses. They are now underdogs in their own building. Will it provide motivation?

New York Jets: Pre-Season Week 2 Rookie Report

A week by week look throughout the pre-season at how the New York Jets rookies are performing

Muhammad Wilkerson – (1 tackle) – Another relatively nondescript performance from the Jets first round pick. However, Wilkerson did look a little more comfortable at the point of attack and seems to be holding his own out there. He has looked solid against the run but it would be nice to see break through one of these weeks and get after the quarterback a little.

Kenrick Ellis – (1 tackle, 1 tackle for loss) – Ellis surprisingly didn’t get the start for an injured Sione Pouha, with Martin Tevaseu stepping in instead. Yet, Ellis was still productive during his reps, even though the bulk of them came against the Bengals backups. He certainly has the look of somebody who should be a contributor in the Jets defensive line rotation.

Bilal Powell – (9 carries, 22 yards, 1 reception, 2 yards) – A bit of a let down after an encouraging debut. Joe McKnight took a big step towards locking down the number three running back job by outplaying Powell against the Bengals. Powell had a couple of chances to pound the ball in after Brashton Satele’s interception but couldn’t get in the end-zone.

Jeremy Kerley – (1 reception, 5 yards) – Kerley hasn’t translated a big training camp into a big pre-season yet. He had difficulty handling a punt and only managed 1 reception for 5 yards, despite getting extended work with the first offense. He does still look dangerous in the open field and was a tackle away from breaking a big kick return.

Greg McElroy – (6/9, 52 yards, 1 TD) – McElroy was again impressive as Mark Sanchez’s top backup. Despite lacking big time physical tools, he does play confident and seems to have a good grasp of the offense. He did a nice job executing a play action fake down by the red-zone, which led to a short touchdown pass to Joe McKnight.

Scotty McKnight – Another night without a recorded stat for McKnight, who is starting to look more like a practice squad player. Patrick Turner has looked better at receiver and Logan Payne has more value on special teams, while also getting an occasional rep with the starting offense.

Out of the undrafted free agents, Garret McIntyre and Nick Bellore both recorded two tackles each at linebacker. Receivers Dan DePalma and Mike Campbell didn’t pull in any receptions.

New York Jets: Pre-Season Week 1 Rookie Report

A week by week look throughout the pre-season on how the New York Jets rookies are performing

Muhammad Wilkerson(2 tackles, 1 solo) – Wilkerson’s most notable play of the night was an offsides penalty but it is hard to expect too much on the stat sheet out of a rookie 3-4 defensive end going as a starter in his first action. He generally held his own up front, wasn’t pushed around and did get a decent push of his own on a few plays. Wilkerson certainly looked like he belonged out there and by the time September 11th comes around, he should be ready to be a solid contributor up front.

Kenrick Ellis(2 tackles, 1 solo) – Going against the backups, Ellis was more active around the football than Wilkerson despite having an identical stat sheet. He also batted a pass up in the air, which was intercepted by linebacker Josh Mauga.

Bilal Powell(9 carries 25 yards, 3 receptions 27 yards) – His yards per carry don’t indicate it but Powell showed good burst and vision in his performance, and now with Joe McKnight dealing with a concussion could have a chance to seize the #3 running back job. Powell was particularly impressive catching the ball out of the backfield, and nearly scored on a screen pass from Greg McElroy.

Jeremy Kerley – (3 receptions, 20 yards) – Kerley had such massive expectations coming in after impressing at camp, that any thing short of 150 yards receiving and two touchdowns could feel like a disappointment. Yet, the rookie wide receiver looked good on both offense and special teams as a returner. He is difficult to bring down and has good vision.

Greg McElroy (23/39, 208 yards, 1 touchdown) – McElroy was very impressive his debut last night. He took every rep after Mark Sanchez left, was beat up behind a makeshift offensive line, and rebounded from a shaky start. McElroy clearly lacks arm strength but showed accuracy on the intermediate routes and plenty of toughness. The Jets just may have found their long term backup for Sanchez.

Scotty McKnight – A night without any recorded stats for a rookie wide receiver isn’t a good thing. McKnight didn’t record a reception or make any tackles on special teams. He has an uphill battle to make the team following a strong offensive performance by Patrick Turner and a quality special teams effort from Logan Payne. Undrafted free agent  wide receiver Dan DePalma also had a good showing as a punt returner and on the coverage units.

Out of the undrafted free agents, outside linebacker Garrett McIntyre recorded two sacks and has a decent shot to stick on the final 53 man roster considering the Jets depth chart at linebacker. Tight end Josh Baker flashed very good hands and finished with 3 receptions for 45 yards. Undrafted free agent wide receiver Michael Campbell had a killer drop late in the game, which drew a few expletives out of Rex Ryan.

Lockout Off-Season: Rounding Up Top Jets Defensive Storylines

Earlier today we looked at the top storylines on offense…now to the other side of the ball

Defensive Line

  • Draft Heavy, Veterans Leaving?

The Jets spent their first two draft picks on defensive lineman, Muhammad Wilkerson and Kenrick Ellis, and released Kris Jenkins. There is also speculation that both Shaun Ellis and Trevor Pryce won’t be brought back, with Ellis leaving via free agency and Pryce contemplating retirement. However, it would be smart for the Jets to keep at least one, hopefully Ellis who is the longest tenured player on the team, to help mentor the rookies and ease their transition into the NFL.

Linebackers

  • Draft Ignored, Free Agent Answers?

The Jets didn’t select any linebackers in the NFL Draft and as of right now have some depth concerns. Unless they are anticipating a bigger role for players like Jamaal Westerman or Josh Mauga, they may look to coax Jason Taylor out of retirement or sign a free agent like Matt Roth.

Secondary

  • Everybody’s A Free Agent

Seriously…Antonio Cromartie, Drew Coleman, Eric Smith, Brodney Pool, and James Ihedigbo all need new contracts and obviously some tough decisions will have to be made.

  • Jim Leonhard On The Mend

Leonhard has recovered well this off-season from his season-ending injury in the middle of last year.

  • Is Wilson Ready?

If Antonio Cromartie leaves via free agency, Kyle Wilson will likely have to step into the starting line-up. He struggled his rookie season, is he ready for a bigger role?

Underappreciated Lineman Anchor Jets Defense

There was no question the New York Jets needed to upgrade their defensive line this off-season. They had issues with their depth and struggled to consistently get after the quarterback. However, that doesn’t diminish the fact their defense was ranked third in the NFL last season at stopping the run and managed to generate enough of a pass rush to knock both Petyon Manning and Tom Brady out of the playoffs.

Two-thirds of the Jets starting defensive line are relative no-name players who don’t necessarily fit in with their big name, big talking counterparts. Sione Pouha and Mike DeVito have both very quietly developed into quality NFL starters and are a big part of why the Jets defense has been so successful the past two years.

Pouha has admirably stepped in for an injured Kris Jenkins in both 2009 and 2010. Jenkins was released this year, leaving Pouha as the official full time starting nose tackle. He is coming off a career year, where he racked up 59 tackles, 2 sacks, and 3 recovered fumbles. A 3rd round draft pick of the Jets in 2005, Pouha has fought off early injuries in his career and multiple coaching changes to develop into the starting nose tackle on one of the league’s best defenses. The Jets drafted Kenrick Ellis in the third round this season, who should be able to spell him and could eventually develop into his replacement a few years down the road.

Mike DeVito is an undrafted free agent from Maine, now entering his fifth year with the Jets. He has clawed his way up from being an extra body in training camp, to the practice squad, to a rotational player and now finally to being a starting defensive end. The Jets showed confidence in him before last season by letting Marques Douglas walk in free agency, which left the starting job to DeVito. He responded with 59 tackles, 4 tackles for a loss, and 2 forced fumbles. He is a good fit in Ryan’s scheme and is solid against the run.

The Jets first round pick Muhammad Wilkerson will likely replace Shaun Ellis in the starting line-up, if not this year, than likely next year. He should provide a pass rush out of the defensive end position, while DeVito can continue to plug up the run.

When discussing the Jets defense, it is usually names like Darrelle Revis, David Harris, Bart Scott, and Calvin Pace that come up first. However, don’t discount the production they are getting from blue-collar players like Pouha and DeVito.

The Importance Of Bringing Shaun Ellis Back

Despite the New York Jets selecting defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson in the first round of the NFL Draft and then adding defensive tackle Kenrick Ellis in the third round, it still remains important to bring veteran Shaun Ellis back for the defensive line rotation.

Despite never being a truly great player, Ellis has been a consistently very good defensive end, against both the run and pass for his entire 12 year career with the Jets. We know he still has gas in the tank after the way he dominated the New England Patriots offensive line in the Jets divisional round win last year.

With the NFL having a shortened off-season (and maybe a shortened regular season for that matter), you can’t expect Wilkerson to be ready to step into a starting role from day one. Players like Ropati Pitoitua and Marcus Dixon also haven’t shown enough yet to be considered strong candidates for a starting defensive end spot. It would be beneficial for Wilkerson’s development to spend a year learning from Ellis and coming off the bench before taking over for him full time.

Ellis has spent his entire career with the Jets and is a leader in the locker room. However, that isn’t the primary reason to work something out with him. Ellis is still a productive player at a position the Jets need help at.

You can’t assume a rookie or a player coming off an Achilles injury can start on one of the league’s best defenses, especially after this off-season. Hopefully, Mike Tannenbaum can work out a short term deal with Ellis to ease Wilkerson’s transition to the NFL and give the Jets better depth on their defensive line.