Kenrick Ellis Can’t Be Labeled a Bust

After reading Paul Schwartz’s New York Giants article for the New York Post, titled, “Giants Sign Jets Bust Kenrick Ellis to Fortify D-Line”, I can only disagree with his opinion on Ellis being a bust. It is no disrespect to Schwartz, as he is an excellent writer and I enjoy his work very much, but he is undoubtedly wrong in this instance.

Kenrick Ellis has been with the New York Jets ever since they acquired him in the third round of the 2011 NFL draft out of Hampton University. In college and the NFL, he has proved to be a prodigious run-stuffer. Ellis was unable to gain a starting role for a long period of time due to the excellent talent the Jets have had at the nose tackle position (Sione Pouha and Damon Harrison), as well as an injury in his third season that led to the breakout of Harrison, who kept the starting job.

There is no way that someone could label him a bust after just four seasons, as he did not have enough opportunity to start. In 2011, Pouha was a great nose tackle, while Ellis was a rookie, and in 2013, Harrison showed the world, in the absence of Kenrick Ellis due to injury, that he is one of, if not the best nose tackles in the league today. Had Ellis never been injured in his third professional season, it is quite possible that nobody would know about Harrison, while Ellis would have broken out.

In 2014, the Jets would primarily use Damon Harrison, as he is their starter. When they subbed him out, they would put Kenrick Ellis in and see absolutely no decline in performance. Ellis could win a starting job on almost any other team in the NFL, but Harrison became a household name in New York, while Ellis’ projected “breakout season” became a thing of the past, disabling him from gaining the starting job at nose tackle.

At the age of just 27, it is way to early to call this 6’5”, 346-pound beast a bust. He has been very productive in his limited role filling in for the Jets’ star nose tackles, not allowing the production to slip when he was substituted in for the starters. The Jets have ranked in the top seven rushing defenses in the NFL in each of the last three years due to their excellent defensive line talent. Unfortunately, Ellis is just a step behind Harrison in skill, which deemed him expendable to General Manager Mike Maccagnan.

Kenrick Ellis will prove to be a very valuable piece in the New York Giants’ defensive line, as he is a premier run-stopper on a team that desperately needs one. He will have to compete with the likes of Cullen Jenkins, Markus Kuhn, and Johnathan Hankins for a starting spot on the depth chart, but since in the Giants’ base 4-3 scheme, they start two defensive tackles, Ellis should be able to secure one of them. His body and playing type fits that of a right defensive tackle, but he does have above-average speed and quickness (for a defensive tackle) that a left defensive tackle should possess.

While Paul Schwartz is an excellent, well-liked writer, his use of the term “bust” when referring to Kenrick Ellis was, in the words of Stephen A Smith, “Blasphemous”. There is a great chance that Ellis does win a starting job for the Giants, and if he does, they will reward him with a nice payday. On a team that truly needs him, Kenrick Ellis might finally reach his full potential and show the world what he is made of.

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