The Oakland Raiders drafted 6’2″, 334-pound nose tackle Justin “Jelly” Ellis in the fourth round in 2014. And soon thereafter, the team identified him as one of the young core players. Most nose tackles are selected in the later rounds because most of the time, they take a few years to develop.
That’s because it takes man strength to play the position and the players are only 20 when they get picked. Going into his fourth year, Ellis has had plenty of time to develop so he needs to turn out now. The Raiders had the No. 23-ranked run defense with opposing offenses from averaging 4.5 yards per carry on them.
Dan Williams, who was once dominant, reported to camp out of shape last year and got cut. And the Raiders didn’t draft a nose tackle or sign one in free agency so it’s all on Ellis right now. He didn’t inspire much confidence last year when Williams got demoted for being out of shape.
Ellis got removed from the hole by just the center on running plays too often for my taste. A great nose tackle can’t be blocked by one man, requiring double-teams on every running play. This is his fourth year coming up so Raiders are hoping that he has developed into that guy.
They signed Jelani Jenkins, who is returning from an injury take care of one of the inside linebacker spots. And they hope 2017 fifth-round pick Marquel Lee steps in at the other inside backer. If Ellis becomes what they wanted him to develop into this year, he can make the two inside backers work.