It’s always intriguing to see which veterans are cut from their teams during preseason each year. For the New York Jets, Stephen Hill is a name that has been bandied about as a potential lame duck this year. After his first career game, Hill has been very unimpressive, and he has more competition at the position to deal with this year. But another young veteran player Jet fans might see get cut is nose tackle Kenrick Ellis.
Ellis was the Jets’ third-round draft pick out of Hampton University in 2011, the same draft in which they picked up defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson in the first round. Wilkerson has become one of the premier young linemen in the league, but Ellis has not caught fire the same way. Damon Harrison won the starting nose tackle job from him last year, and Leger Douzable stepped up as an important contributor in the D-line rotation as well.
While I said Ellis would make the team in my 53-man roster projections from two weeks ago, I can also see a world where the Jets part ways with him. Don’t get me wrong – Ellis is a good player. Pro Football Focus named Ellis the Jets’ “Secret Superstar,” almost solely for his “run stop percentage” of 14.9 percent, the best at that position. That’s a nice stat, but I think it represents more of the Jets’ unit as a whole, which specialized in stuffing the run. (Damon Harrison’s run stop percentage of 13.2 percent was second place for defensive tackles, after all.) Meanwhile, Douzable and Harrison had 1.5 sacks and one sack in 2013, respectively, while Ellis has not recorded a sack in his entire career. Though nose tackle isn’t a sack-happy position, Ellis is clearly not as fit for passing downs as Douzable and Harrison are.
So why can’t we keep all three of them on the roster like we did last year? you ask. The team certainly can. I only wonder that, with the instability at cornerback and with Rex Ryan’s love for the position, the team might try to keep their options open by having as many as eight corners on the roster (rather than the seven I allotted for the unit two weeks ago). They would have to trim down a different unit to make roster space for an eighth corner, and having three nose tackles really is a luxury.
Kenrick Ellis may not exactly be fighting for his job this summer, but the Jets could end up being better off without him.
News and Notes: The Portuguese national soccer team held its final pre-World Cup practice at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center Monday in Florham Park, N.J. Wide receiver David Nelson tweeted a picture of himself teaching global soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo how to grip an American football. In the World Cup group stage, Portugal will play in Group G, the “Group of Death” that includes Germany, Ghana and the United States. Portugal and the United States face off Sunday, June 22 at 6 p.m. ET.
~NFL.com’s Gil Brandt listed rookie wide receiver Shaq Evans as one of eleven third-day draft picks that can make a big impact for their respective teams in their 2014 rookie seasons. “Evans, who racked up 107 catches in his last two years at UCLA, will catch the crossing routes. He’s strong and has good size, with a body build that is reminiscent of Michael Irvin,” Brandt wrote.