Justin Ellis could be the figure the Raiders need at DT in 2019
Justin Ellis missed extended time last season due to injury. But, with a healthy offseason how will he bounce back in 2019?
The Raiders defensive line went through major struggles in both efforts to sack the quarterback, and to stop the run. Although, they were without one of their key figures on the defensive line with the absence of Justin Ellis.
Last season, Ellis looked to be the team’s tone setter inside at defensive tackle, as well as mentoring rookie’s Maurice Hurst and P.J Hall. After a productive offseason and training camp last summer, ‘Jelly’ went down in the home opener against the Los Angeles Rams, landing him on injured reserve.
Now entering the 2019 season, Ellis looks to get back to his true form, and be the anchor in the middle of the Raiders defensive line. Last year was the first time he had been sidelined for the majority of one season, after starting 16 games in three of the previous four years.
Ellis is a guy who doesn’t rack up the high sack numbers, but he’s an interior force who stops the run very efficiently. The Raiders lacked the ability to stuff the run last season, as they gave up an average of 4.7-yards per attempt. With a healthy ‘Ellis’ back in action, his presence should be a huge factor for the Raiders stopping the run in a timely matter.
He’s a great player to have in the locker room and can show the younger guys how to go about their work. Meanwhile, he’s also someone who leads by example, who’s never involved in any sort of chaos.
In 2017, he posted a career-high 48 tackles, establishing himself as a premier run stuffer. The Raiders rewarded their former fourth-round pick with a contract extension of three-years worth $13.5 million.
Over his five year career, he’s totaled 119 tackles (80 solo), six tackles for loss, 0.5 sacks, and two passes defended.
It’s clear that the Raiders defense must step up in order accumulate more wins in 2019, and it all starts with the defensive line. If they can generate a better pass rush than last season, and cause a chaotic pocket for opposing quarterbacks, the likelihood of generating turnovers will go up substantially.