Saints Draft

Part three: One pick and one signing that will make the 2018 Saints better

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The signing: Justin Ellis, DT, Oakland Raiders

Speaking of chips on shoulders, here’s a fourth round selection who can make a splash on the free agent market. Justin Ellis was drafted by the Raiders in 2014, and has played in Oakland his whole career up to this point.

He’s going to be on the market this offseason. The question is, how many looks will he get? Of course, he’s a talented player. He wouldn’t be in this article if he weren’t.

But, it’s unknown if he will be a hot commodity come March 14. He was an important piece for the Raiders, especially the last two seasons. However, his stats aren’t eye-popping. In 16 games last season (14 starts), Ellis accumulated 27 tackles and 0.5 sacks. He’s yet to have an entire sack to himself, and has 77 career tackles. Those number seem pedestrian and on tape Ellis may seem inconsistent, but there’s a reason for that.

Ellis is massive at 6’ 2”, 334 pounds. He plugs up the middle, and moved around quite a bit in Oakland’s dysfunctional defense. Usually garnering double teams, Ellis’ contributions led way to stars like Khalil Mack, Aldon Smith and Bruce Irvin piling up tackles and sacks over the last few seasons. Ellis has the strength to bulldoze offensive lineman or free up an extra opening (for guys like All-Pro Cameron Jordan) for his teammates.

Ellis garners a TON of double teams. You know who else does? Rankins, and pairing the two together would leave at least one of them on an island. Ellis’ size and versatility are also a huge advantage for the Saints front.

Next: Comparing Saints 2017 NFL Draft class to class of 2006

He can play nose, right or left defensive tackle and has the ability to plug up holes. When he beats guys off the ball, good luck to that offense.

Ellis has he opportunity to be a versatile key piece for the Saints. He won’t be commanding a large contract, either, so this could become a steal in my book. Low cap hit, potential for great return, locked down for his prime years. Ellis may be an off-the-radar signing Loomis can add to his repertoire.

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