NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock was quick to laud the Raiders’ pick of Ellis.
"'Jelly' can roll, baby,” Mayock said during NFL Network’s broadcast of the 2014 NFL Draft. “He has some short-area quickness; got some foot quickness. I feel like the Raiders have gone 4-for-4 with their draft selections so far."
Ellis, who’s nicknamed “Jelly”, had talked to Raiders before the draft and that it was just a matter of if they would be able to get him. Despite the distance from home, Ellis is happy to call the Raiders his new home.
“I had kind of already been talking to Coach T early on in the process and I kind of knew they was one of the teams that was going to pick me,” Ellis said after Saturday’s practice. “When they called me, it was big. Me and my family were happy, I mean it’s far away from home but I’m happy to be here.”
Ellis has already made an impact on the Raiders defense in the offseason. He has gone from a fourth-round pick to not only earning reps with the first-team defense, but finding success on the field.
Ellis showed his prowess in clogging up the middle of the field beautifully on Saturday when the took on a double team and allowed linebacker Miles Burris to come up and tackle the running back.
Ellis has also found success in getting to the quarterback in camp. After blowing by veteran center Stefen Wisniewski for a simulated sack, Jelly rolled right on past right guard Austin Howard to get another simulated sack on Matt Schaub.
The 6-foot-2, 334-pound defensive tackle attributes the veterans around him on the defensive line for his quicker transition.
“All of the veterans on the d line, they help me a lot,” Ellis said. “[Justin] Tuck, Antonio Smith, Pat Sims, they all talk to me a lot, I think they see potential so they help me out.”
Getting first-team repetitions against the Raiders’ starting offensive line helps as well.
“Going against the [offensive] line, since I get a lot of one reps, going against the first team o-line helps me out a lot,” Ellis said.
Despite his relatively smooth transition into the Raiders defense, Ellis knows that the NFL is a league in which you never stop working and have to continue working to better your craft.
“It happens fast and when you’re working with pro o-lineman not too many mistakes happen so that’s one of the things I’ve had to get adjusted to, is block recognition,” Ellis said about what he needs to work on the most. “And the speed of the game.”
Ellis likes the way that defensive coordinator Jason Tarver runs his defense, trusting that if he does his job than the defense should work and it should be explosive.
“It’s explosive. We’ve got an explosive D,” Ellis said of Tarver’s defensive scheme. “If you do what he says, most likely it’s going to work. That’s the only thing, you’ve got to do what he says.”
Ellis is focusing on using his power as his strength for the time being, and it appears to be working.
“Right now that’s what coach told me to do ‘just bring power to the team right now and then we’ll work on finesse later,’” Ellis said of his biggest strength to the team right now.
Raiders head coach Dennis Allen has seen the said power on the field and believes that his rookie fourth-round pick will be a force to be reckoned with on this rebuilt defense.
“Justin is very powerful,” Allen said of his rookie defensive tackle. “I think he’s gotten a lot better. I think he’s a guy that’s really going to be able to help our defense. It’s funny, you look out there today and we’ve got Justin Ellis out there and he’s 340 pounds, you’ve got Pat Sims who’s 330 pounds and you’ve got C.J. Wilson who’s about 310, 315 pounds, so we’re a lot bigger as a defensive line and I think Justin Ellis is going to be a big part of what we do defensively upfront.”