The Raiders made Louisiana Tech defensive tackle, Justin Ellis with the first of two fourth round picks today (107). The pick was a bit of a surprise. His stock shot up this off-season with strong performances in the Shrine Game and Senior Bowl, though the 6-1 nose tackle has had weight issues in the past, coming to Louisiana Tech weighing in at 390 pounds before being told to take weight off before he could suit up.
Here is what he had to say about his joining the Raiders, where he fits best on the defensive line, and his weight issues.
Q: Were you hearing much from Raiders?
Ellis: "Yes. Me and coach Terrell [Williams], we hit it off pretty good. He kept saying how much he liked me and I had a lot of interest from program or whatever so I did have a good idea of them picking me or whatever."
You come for a visit, was it at your pro day, when did you talk to him?
"They came out to my pro day and coach, we just kept in contact since my pro day and stuff. And some before the pro day. I met him out at the Senior Bowl and stuff too."
How much do you think your performance in the East West Shrine Game helped you?
"It helped me a lot. That's one of the reasons why I think my draft stock moved up and it's a blessing."
Your stock seems to have gone up since the season ended, have you found new and different ways to work out and get in better shape?
"Yes, I've always been a hard worker but as far as my weight, I tried to make sure I was consistent just so the teams would know I'm not just a guy that will swell up on them. But other than that I just work like I do, like I've been doing all my life and it just paid off."
What would you say your biggest strengths are?
"My power and explosiveness, my quickness off the ball."
You feel like you can play over the nose or three tech or inside guy, what position?
"I'm most definitely an inside guy anywhere from the nose to the 3-technique, anything they really want from me I can play."
They love guys here who are serious about football and don't have lot of drama off the field, is that you and please answer as brief as possible?
"Yes, sir, that's me. Most definitely that's me."
Is there any defensive tackle that you pattern your game after?
"Growing up, Warren Sapp was my idol, he was the football person that I looked up to as far as football. But lately, as far as going into the draft and the last couple of years, Vince Wilfork, he has grown on me a lot. I like the way he plays the game and I kind of model my game after him."
What brought you to Louisiana Tech?
"They recruited me well, coach Dooley. I thought it was a great program. It was a building process and I wanted to be a part of it. They recruited me well. My mom liked them. I thought it was a good thing. I had a good feeling about it. The trust; if I trust you, I'm going to go with you."
How appealing to get drafted by a team with so many veteran defensive linemen?
"I'm honored to be able to work with those guys. Justin Tuck is a guy who is a good defensive tackle, good defensive lineman, period. Lamarr Woodley and all those guys, they are great professional athletes. I'm happy to be a part of the Oakland Raiders."
How did you get saddled with the nickname "Jelly?"
"My high school coach, my freshman year, my defensive coordinator David Taylor, he said, ‘I'm going to call you Jelly Bean.' That stuck to me and everybody called me Jelly. I don't have no problem with it. Actually, that's my name now. So, I embraced it."
Describe your weight issues over the years, Jelly?
"It's been a grind because I'm a built guy just naturally. I'm a naturally built guy. I gain weight easily but I also lose easily, too, so my weight fluctuates. At the same time, it's been a grind, but it's something that I can do. I haven't lost control of it. But I have gained weight but I also lose it."
What is your weight at now and what should it be at ideally in the NFL?
"Right around 346, 347. Maybe 330."