AFC East: Kenrick Ellis

Jets' Holmes, Ellis active for opener

September, 8, 2013
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- As expected, wide receiver Santonio Holmes (foot) is active for the season opener Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

It became apparent around mid-week that Holmes, who missed the entire preseason, would be ready for the first game. Early in training camp, there were doomsday reports about Holmes, with some speculation he could miss a month or two. The question is, how much will he play? Holmes, restricted to limited practice time, probably will be spotted throughout the game. Look for him in third-down situations.

In a mild surprise, DT Kenrick Ellis (back) is active. Ellis missed the last three preseason games and, even though he practiced on a limited basis, there was some question about his availability.

The Jets' inactives are QB Mark Sanchez, OT Ben Ijalana, G Will Campbell, OT Oday Aboushi, LB Quinton Coples, LB Danny Lansanah and LB Scott Solomon.

By deactivating Ijalana, Campbell and Aboushi, the Jets are dressing only seven offensive linemen. The backups are rookie G Brian Winters and C Caleb Schlauderaff. If they need a replacement at tackle, starting LG Vladimir Ducasse could move out to tackle.

The Bucs' inactives are QB Dan Orlovsky, CB Rashaan Melvin, FE Erik Lorig, G Carl Nicks, TE Tom Crabtree, DE William Gholston and DT Chris Jones.
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Rookie cornerback Dee Milliner, whom the Jets drafted to ostensibly replace Darrelle Revis, proclaimed himself ready to face Revis' new team -- the Bucs -- Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

"I feel great," Milliner said Monday after practice. "I'm back on the field. I'm back doing everything 100 percent, so I feel good."

Milliner, selected ninth overall, missed the last two preseason games with a calf injury. He was seen leaving MetLife Stadium last Thursday night in a walking boot, fueling speculation that he could he hurt worse than initially thought. No doubt, he will be targeted by the Bucs. Milliner fell behind in training camp after missing the first few days because of a contract dispute, and he missed two weeks of practice with the calf.

The Jets will be down one, possibly two starters on defense. Rex Ryan acknowledged the obvious, that outside linebacker Quinton Coples (fractured ankle) won't play. Sources say he could miss the first month. Nose tackle Kenrick Ellis (back), sidelined for three preseason games, was a non-participant in practice during the 30-minute window for the media.

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The Jets' always-fascinating quarterback carousel was spinning at full speed Monday.

Newly signed Brady Quinn, who worked out for the team in the morning, participated in practice, wearing No. 9. As Quinn went through the paces with his new team, embattled incumbent Mark Sanchez was off in the distance, riding a stationary bike. Sanchez is out with a bruised joint in his throwing shoulder and is not expected to be ready for the season opener.

Coach Rex Ryan is scheduled to address the media after practice. It's unknown whether he will announce the starting quarterback, although it's clear that rookie Geno Smith will be the choice.

In other practice news, cornerbacks Antonio Cromartie (hip) and Dee Milliner (calf) worked with the trainers during the 30-minute window open to the media. The early sense is that both will be ready for the Bucs, although there's still some question about Milliner.

Nose tackle Kenrick Ellis (back), who missed the last three preseason games, also didn't participate in the early portion of practice. His status for the opener is up in the air. It looks as if Damon Harrison could get the start.

Monday recap: What we learned

August, 26, 2013
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Observations from the sideline:

1. Mark Sanchez wins the QB competition: Rex Ryan didn't make the announcement, but he didn't have to. It became obvious Saturday night, when Geno Smith proved he isn't ready, and it was affirmed Monday with Ryan's non-answer on his quarterback plan. If Smith had won the job, it would've been easy to anoint him. But Ryan withheld his decision, pretending the competition still is ongoing. That's because his chosen starter -- Sanchez -- is banged up and may not be available for Week 1. Round and round we go.

2. Vladimir Ducasse is a starter -- finally: It took three years, but the former second-round pick has cracked the lineup at left guard. Ducasse, who appeared to be on his way to bust-dom, beat out veteran Stephen Peterman for the job. On Monday, the Jets released Peterman, all but confirming Ducasse's promotion. He's also listed with the starters on the team's latest depth chart. This isn't a season-long appointment; he will be pushed by third-round pick Brian Winters. Somewhere, former GM Mike Tannenbaum, Ducasse's most ardent supporter, is smiling.

3. Kenrick Ellis could get Pipp-ed before he starts a game: With Ellis nursing a bad back, second-year nose tackle Damon Harrison has stepped in nicely, earning lavish praise from Ryan. On Monday, Ryan opened his news conference with a video of Harrison and rookie receiver Ryan Spadola, highlighting their top plays from Saturday night. Harrison, who made the team last year as an undrafted rookie, made seven solo tackles, showing nice instincts, ball awareness and hustle. Ellis began camp as the presumptive starter on the nose, but he has missed two games and is in danger of losing the job to a man with the best nickname on the team -- Snacks.

Rapid Reaction: Lions 26, Jets 17

August, 9, 2013
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DETROIT -- The New York Jets opened the preseason Friday night with a 26-17 loss to the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Despite a killer interception, Mark Sanchez won the night over Geno Smith in the ballyhooed quarterback competition. Smith left in the third quarter after rolling his ankle. It doesn't appear serious, but he can't afford to miss any practice time.

What it means: As it stands now, Sanchez will be the opening-day starter. He gave as many points to the Lions as he produced for the Jets -- seven -- but he showed greater command than Smith, who delivered a nondescript performance in his NFL debut. Smith is doomed if he misses any practice time; it's almost impossible for a rookie to play catch-up in training camp.

Sanchez's night: It was the worst possible start for Sanchez, who threw a pick-six on the Jets' first series. Under pressure on a screen pass, he didn't put enough air under the pass and it was intercepted by rookie defensive end Ziggy Ansah, who returned it 14 yards for a touchdown. Sanchez has a maddening tendency to turn a safe pass into a calamity. In fact, he almost had another screen intercepted.

To Sanchez's credit, he responded to the disastrous start to finish 10-for-13 for 125 yards with a 26-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Jeff Cumberland. It culminated a seven-play, 80-yard drive, much of which came in the hurry-up offense. It was typical Sanchez -- some good, some ugly. Some things don't change.

Geno's night: Unlike Sanchez, Smith didn't make any horrible mistakes, but he also didn't bring any spark to the offense. The former West Virginia star, who got two series behind the starting offensive line, generated only one first down on his first three drives -- a 15-yard pass to Clyde Gates on his first play. Simply put, Smith didn't look ready to take over the team. He finished 6-for-7 for 47 yards. Smith came out on the first series of the third quarter, when he turned his right ankle on an open-field scramble.

Greg McElroy came in and did a nice job against the Lions' third-stringers, going 11-for-19 for 145 yards and an 11-yard TD pass to Zach Rogers.

Big-play tight ends: Dustin Keller is gone, but Cumberland and Kellen Winslow displayed playmaking ability. Winslow made a nice catch and run for 24 yards. Cumberland scored his touchdown on a deep seam, showing his ability to get vertical. It's too soon to say the Jets have two weapons at tight end, but it was a good start.

Another injured running back: John Griffin was carted off with a lower-leg injury. It didn't look good. Already down Chris Ivory, Mike Goodson and Joe McKnight, the Jets can't afford another injury in the backfield. Ivory (hamstring) is expected to return Sunday.

New-look defense: The Jets opened with seven new starters in the post-Darrelle Revis era. All things considered, the defense held up fairly well. Most of the starters played most of the first half, an unusually long stint for the first game, and allowed 10 points. Cornerback Darrin Walls, an early substitution for starter Antonio Cromartie, got beat on a 15-yard scoring pass. One player who jumped out was nose tackle Kenrick Ellis, who deflected a pass and held the point of attack. Safety Dawan Landry got beat once in coverage. Keep in mind that Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford played only two series.

The rookies: It was a so-so debut for top pick Dee Milliner, who started at corner in the base defense. He didn't have to cover all-world receiver Calvin Johnson -- Cromartie drew that assignment -- so that made life easier for Milliner. He had a nice pass breakup in the end zone, but he missed an open-field tackle and allowed a 27-yard reception. Milliner gets some slack, though, because he missed a lot of time and is rusty. It was a relatively quiet night for defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson.

The Q report: Former first-round pick Quinton Coples, making the transition to outside linebacker, flashed good and bad on his first two plays. He deflected a pass on an outside rush, but he failed to set the edge on an outside run by Reggie Bush. Coples didn't move well in space. This will be an interesting position change.

What's ahead: The Jets return to Cortland, for four days of practice. They break camp Thursday and return to Florham Park, N.Y., where they will prepare for next Saturday's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Here are the most interesting stories Wednesday in the AFC East:
  • Massachusetts police searched the home of New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez in connection with a homicide investigation.
Morning take: The important thing is that Hernandez is not a suspect. However, it’s hard to tell how serious a matter this will be until all the facts are released.
Morning take: Although you can’t completely rule it out, leaving Starks with the franchise tag makes sense for the Dolphins. Miami spent more than $200 million in long-term contracts and can’t tie itself up further with big extensions.
  • Will there be any movement in talks between the Buffalo Bills and safety Jairus Byrd?
Morning take: There’s no reason to worry just yet. Byrd is obviously unhappy with the franchise tag. But the Bills have the cap room to work out an agreement, so it’s always possible the sides can reach a deal by later this summer.
Morning take: Ellis will be coming off the bench and needs to bring quality depth to the trenches. Injuries often occur on the defensive line, so Ellis must stay ready.

Dolphins are at a crossroads

October, 26, 2012
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Ryan TannehillRonald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty ImagesSince struggling Sept. 23 against the Jets, Ryan Tannehill has put together three solid games.

DAVIE, Fla. -- Miami Dolphins running back Reggie Bush walked into the media room with a smirk on his face Wednesday.

“Packed house,” Bush said with a grin. “I wonder why.”

Miami's rookie head coach, Joe Philbin, entered minutes later and also noticed a larger-than-usual media corps. It was quiet confirmation that the Dolphins finally are doing something right.

It’s been four years since the Dolphins have been this interesting. That was 2008, when former coach Tony Sparano led Miami to an unexpected 11-5 season and an AFC East title.

Since then, the Dolphins have pretty much been a bad punch line. This summer alone, Miami had to slog through a winless preseason and handle the Chad Johnson fiasco on national television during HBO’s “Hard Knocks.” A 1-3 start to the regular season also didn’t help things.

But the Dolphins are suddenly interesting again. They have won two straight with a talented rookie quarterback (Ryan Tannehill) and a physical defense. Many are wondering whether Miami is just a flash in the pan or potentially a surprise team in the second half of the season.

The Dolphins (3-3) are at a crossroads, and Sunday they travel to MetLife Stadium to face the rival New York Jets (3-4). This matchup will greatly affect the direction of both AFC East teams.

“It’s a big game,” the usually calm Philbin said. “No question about it.”

Added Jets coach Rex Ryan, “It’s a huge game for both teams. If it’s said otherwise, it’s not true, because nobody believes it. Everybody knows how huge this game is.”

Is Miami a contender or pretender?

This rebuilt Miami team wasn’t expected to compete for a playoff spot in 2012. But the division is mediocre and so is the AFC, and suddenly the wild-card spots are wide open for any teams that can get hot.

[+] EnlargeJoe Philbin
Kirby Lee/Image of Sport/US Presswire"It's a big game," Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said of Sunday's matchup with the Jets. "No question about it."
The veteran Jets have been there before. They went to back-to-back AFC title games in 2009 and 2010. It’s the younger, less experienced Dolphins who have to prove they are legit.

This is a golden opportunity for Miami to bury the Jets and send them packing for the season at 3-5. That is a record New York most likely wouldn't be able to recover from, especially with its best player (CB Darrelle Revis) and No. 1 receiver (Santonio Holmes) lost for the season.

If the Dolphins are legit, they won’t let New York “ground and pound” their defense. Miami’s run defense is fifth in the NFL, and another good performance would force the New York to go to its air attack and quarterback Mark Sanchez.

If the Dolphins are legit, they will establish Bush and their ground game on the road against a Jets defense ranked 30th against the run. The combination of running well and stopping the run has kept Miami in nearly every game this season.

If the Dolphins are legit, Tannehill will continue to show improvement after the bye. He struggled against New York’s defense in the teams' first meeting this season, throwing for just 196 yards and a costly pick-six. But Tannehill’s quarterback rating in the three games since have been 86.5, 92.3 and 112.0.

“I think he’s steadily improved each and every week,” Dolphins guard Richie Incognito said. “He’s done a really good job knowing what the defense is trying to do to us and putting us in the right protections and the right run calls.”

There are no excuses for the Dolphins, who have had two weeks to rest and prepare for their biggest rival. Miami nearly beat the Jets in the first meeting -- a 23-20 Jets overtime win in Week 3 -- and the Dolphins have seen enough tape to adjust to what went wrong.

Unlike the Jets, the Dolphins have been very fortunate with injuries and will enter this game virtually at full strength. Cornerback Richard Marshall (back) is the only player not expected to be available on Sunday. The Jets have injuries at linebacker (Bart Scott), defensive line (Sione Pouha, Kenrick Ellis) and running back (Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight).

A caveat might be the trash talk and emotion. These rivals simply don’t like each other. The back-and-forth between Dolphins players such as Bush and center Mike Pouncey and Jets players such as LaRon Landry and Aaron Maybin has made for a fun week. Landry has gone as far as to guarantee a win for the Jets.

Whether the trash talk leads to rough play remains to be seen.

“I go back to the game I saw on September 23 [and] it was a hard fought game by both teams,” Philbin said. “I didn’t think it was a dirty game. Players played hard, and I suspect that will be what happens this time around.”

The Dolphins have another thing going for them: Miami has never suffered a season sweep versus the Jets under Ryan. The Dolphins will be motivated not to let their biggest rival accomplish that feat.

“We know who we’re playing. This is a good football team,” Ryan said. “The fact that we’ve never beat them twice, that kind of gives us energy. The fact that we can go 3-1 in our division with two wins over Miami, that would be huge. So we see it as a real possibility.”

If the Dolphins are truly a contender, they will win this game and position themselves to make a push in the second half of the season. On the other hand, a loss by the Dolphins would throw them back in the pack of mediocre, sub-.500 teams.

It’s time for Miami to make its choice.
The Associated Press reports New York Jets backup defensive lineman Kenrick Ellis was sentenced to 45 days in jail Monday after pleading guilty to assault and battery during an incident in 2010. Ellis will report on June 15, which is one day after the Jets conclude their mandatory minicamp.

Ellis was involved in a fight at Hampton University two years ago. The Associated Press also reports the alleged victim is suing Ellis for $3 million in damages.

The Jets drafted Ellis in the third round last year. He started two games as a rookie and recorded seven tackles.

AFC East links: Bills, Jets sign top picks

May, 18, 2012
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Buffalo Bills

Cornerback Stephon Gilmore, the 10th overall pick in April's draft, is in the fold, the Buffalo News reported, after signing a four-year contract. Second-rounder Cordy Glenn and third-rounder T.J. Graham are now the only members of Buffalo's draft class yet to come to terms.

FoxSports.com's Adam Schein sizes up quarterback Vince Young, who could be getting his last shot in the NFL with the Bills. Schein: "There was a point where Young seemingly ruled the world. Today he is competing with Tyler Thigpen for the right to back up Ryan Fitzpatrick in Buffalo. What a sad, strange and wasted trip."

Miami Dolphins

Sixth-round pick B.J. Cunningham, a wide receiver from Michigan State, became the first draftee to sign with the Dolphins, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported.

The Sun-Sentinel's Omar Kelly compares the Dolphins' outgoing players with those brought in to replace them.

New England Patriots

Alfonzo Dennard, the Nebraska cornerback who fell to the Patriots in the seventh round of the draft after being arrested on suspicion of assaulting a police officer, has agreed to a four-year contract, a league source tells Mike Reiss.

The team also signed Jeremy Ebert, a seventh-round wide receiver out of Northwestern.

ESPNBoston.com has a Q&A with fullback Spencer Larsen.

New York Jets

Quinton Coples, the North Carolina defensive star whom the Jets selected 16th overall, has signed with the team, the Jets' official site reports. The deal, sources told the New York Daily News, is for four years, with a team option for a fifth year; the contract is expected to be a little shy of the $9.3 million ($5.2 million guaranteed) 15th pick Bruce Irvin got from Seattle.

Safety Antonio Allen, a seventh-round pick from South Carolina, also signed with the team.

Defensive lineman Kenrick Ellis won't likely be deported to his native Jamaica but might have to serve additional jail time, Manish Mehta reports.

Former Jets punter Steve Weatherford lit into quarterback Mark Sanchez over a perceived lack of development during an NFL.com podcast: "As the years go on, I think you're expected to mature, skill-wise, and also mature as a leader, and to be honest with you, as much as I like the guy, I just haven't seen that."

Rapid Reaction: Texans 20, Jets 16

August, 15, 2011
8/15/11
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Thoughts from the Jets' 20-16 loss to the Texans in a preseason version of "Monday Night Football."

WHAT IT MEANS: Seven months after their crushing loss to the Steelers in the AFC Championship Game, the Jets began another Super Bowl quest Monday night. Rex Ryan’s cast of characters hasn’t changed much since then and, despite a loss to the Texans, there were enough positives to make it a successful preseason opener. They should’ve pulled it out, but rookie reciever Michael Campbell dropped a potential touchdown pass in the final minute.

ON THE MARK: After some spotty practice performances, quarterback Mark Sanchez (6-for-7, 43 yards) stepped up in prime time and was on point with every pass. His lone incompletion was a drop by backup tight end Matt Mulligan. With two starters missing from the offensive line, the Jets kept it conservative, calling only quick throws for Sanchez. But give him credit for his accuracy; that’s an area he’s working to improve. Sanchez was pulled after one quarter and, no, he didn’t want to fight Ryan to get back on the field.

KEY INJURY: The Jets lost backup center Rob Turner (lower leg) to a potentially serious injury. This injury won’t grab big headlines, but it’s costly because of Turner’s versatility. He can play center, guard, tight end and blocks in the wedge on kickoff returns. Turner, who started for the injured Nick Mangold, was carted off in the first quarter and replaced by third-stringer Robby Felix. Luckily for the Jets, Mangold should be back to practice this week.

THIN LINE: Just the other day, Ryan boasted that the Jets’ top seven offensive linemen are the best in the league. It’s not looking that way now. Not only is Turner out, but second-year lineman Vladimir Ducasse was awful.

Ducasse, who started for injured lineman Brandon Moore, allowed a sack at right guard and another at right tackle. The first sack came on the play in which Turner was injured; Ducasse’s failure to hold off defensive end J.J. Watt put Turner in a vulnerable position. Ducasse also got some work at left guard, where -- hooray -- he didn’t allow a sack.

If Turner’s injury is long term, the Jets will have to sign an experienced backup center. It’s a thin market. In fact, the best available center might be former Giant Shaun O’Hara.

THE PLAXICO VOID: The biggest story of the game -- Plaxico Burress -- wasn’t at the game. He was home, nursing an ankle injury and schmoozing with ESPN’s Mike Tirico in a phone interview during the fourth quarter. (In case you’re wondering, Burress reiterated that he expects to practice full on Wednesday.) Without Burress, the other new receiver, Derrick Mason, was in a prominent role. Mason caught all three passes thrown to him for 21 yards -- a solid debut, considering his lack of practice time with Sanchez.

THE ROOKIES: It was a nice start for the Jets’ draft class, especially nose tackle Kenrick Ellis (one batted pass), QB Greg McElroy (208 yards passing) and WR/KR Jeremy Kerley (32.5 average on kickoff returns). Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson started the game, but didn’t have any wow moments -- although he did have an offsides penalty. Running back Bilal Powell (nine carries, 25 yards) also played well and could push Joe McKnight for the No. 3 tailback job. McKnight left with a possible concussion.

KID QB: With backup QB Mark Brunell (finger) sitting out, McElroy played the second, third and fourth quarters, leading the offense to three field goals and a touchdown (2-yard scoring pass to Patrick Turner). McElroy lost a fumble on a strip sack, but he kept his composure and demonstrated some of the attributes that led the Jets to draft him in the seventh round -- smarts, poise and accuracy. Too bad he doesn’t have a gun.

WHAT A COMEBACK: Eight months removed from breaking his shin in a freak practice collision, safety Jim Leonhard was back on the field, back in the Jets’ starting lineup. It was a welcomed sight for the defense, which relies on Leonhard to make calls on the field.

INJURY WATCH: Linebacker Bart Scott hurt his left ankle/leg on the first play of the game. The replay looked bad, but he returned on the second series. He watched most of the second half with a huge wrap on his leg. Stay tuned.

INACTIVES: QB Mark Brunell, WR Plaxico Burress, C Nick Mangold, RG Brandon Moore, LB Brandon Long, G Trevor Canfield. The Texans played without RB Arian Foster and WR Andre Johnson, their offensive stars.

To keep in line with the other AFC East blog posts I have written this week, let’s discuss the status of the Jets’ defensive line.

New York used two early draft picks on defensive big men and Shaun Ellis is now with the rival Patriots. Trevor Pryce didn’t play a lot of snaps for the Jets last year, but he was effective when he saw the field. He is currently a free agent without a team. So there will be significant changes.

[+] EnlargeMuhammad Wilkerson
AP Photo/Julio CortezThe Jets are hoping first-round pick Muhammad Wilkerson can fill the spot vacated by Shaun Ellis.
Let’s discuss the draft picks and how they fit in. New York used its first-round pick on Muhammad Wilkerson and a third-rounder on Kenrick Ellis. Wilkerson is an excellent physical specimen who looks custom made for defensive end in Rex Ryan’s version of the 3-4. A bigger body than Wilkerson but not as quick or explosive, Ellis is also dripping with potential. Ellis could be a king-sized end, or, if he can prove to consistently play with leverage and keep his pads down, a force in the middle at nose tackle. If not for off-the-field issues, Ellis would have been drafted much higher.

But like all rookies currently getting acclimated to the league, the learning curve for these two is especially steep this season due to the lockout. Compounding matters, Wilkerson is transitioning from Temple and Ellis from Hampton -- which are not exactly NCAA powerhouses. But even if Wilkerson struggles to read blocks and hold the point of attack on early downs as a starting defensive end, he should be quite effective as a rookie rushing the passer in the Jets’ sub packages.

Because of the emergence of Sione Pouha as an upper-echelon nose tackle, New York should be able to bring along Ellis slowly at that position -- maybe just rotating him in from time to time to give the massive Pouha a breather. Pouha offers nothing as a pass-rusher, but he knows how to use his big body very well versus the run. It generally takes two interior offensive linemen to move him backward. And his presence allows the Jets’ exceptional set of inside linebackers to shine.

Although one starting end spot is vacant with Shaun Ellis elsewhere (New York surely would like Wilkerson to grab that job by the throat this preseason), Mike DeVito is among the most underrated players in the league. He is a rock at his end spot. Much like Pouha, DeVito is a simply exceptional player versus the run. But as a pass-rusher, DeVito leaves something to be desired. That being said, you can win an awful lot of games with Pouha and DeVito anchoring the defensive front.

Outside of the four mentioned above, the Jets are a little light on the defensive line, which is a bit concerning considering where Wilkerson and Kenrick Ellis are in their development right now. One name to keep in mind is Jarron Gilbert, who was a failure in Chicago’s upfield 4-3 scheme. He really didn’t fit the mold of the Bears’ defensive ends or interior linemen. But Gilbert is only 24, is built like a 3-4 end and has rare athletic ability for such a big man. Gilbert could be exactly the type of guy whom Rex Ryan cultivates and turns into a productive player.

One other wild card at defensive end in this equation is Ropati Pitoitua. We haven’t seen much of Pitoitua, but he has rare size for the position and has reportedly been quite impressive thus far in camp.

The Jets still have one of the better defensive lines in football. But it isn’t without some uncertainty.

Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com. Follow Matt Williamson on Twitter @WilliamsonNFL.

Jets draft choice could get deported

July, 9, 2011
7/09/11
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ESPNNewYork.com reporter Rich Cimini wrote an intriguing piece about the future of New York Jets third-round pick Kenrick Ellis.

The defensive lineman from Hampton faces up to 20 years in prison on a felony charge of malicious wounding. The on-campus incident occurred in April.

The story, unfortunately, doesn't seem too exceptional. The Jets knew about the charge when they drafted him, investigated the circumstances and were sufficiently satisfied.

But there's one particular issue that makes Ellis' case noteworthy.

He's not a U.S. citizen. Although he moved to the U.S. when he was 11, graduated from high school in South Florida and is considered a "permanent resident," he was born in Jamaica. A felony conviction makes him deportable.

"There's a reason [for the Jets] to be worried ... because if it's an aggravated felony, there's nothing that can be done," immigration attorney Bill Kovatch told Cimini. Kovatch doesn't represent Ellis. "He gets deported, and there's no waiver."

Ellis is a significant part of the Jets' draft class. Because they didn't own a second-round pick, Ellis was the second player they took.
Scouts Inc.’s Matt Williamson looks at AFC East players on the verge of a breakout in 2011.

Picking a budding star wasn’t easy with this team. The Jets have a very top-heavy roster that features some truly exceptional players who clearly already qualify as stars. But I don’t see a ton of young emerging talent. The 2011 draft could net two very valuable rookies in defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson, New York’s first-round pick, and Kenrick Ellis, another big body with a lot of ability who could project to nose tackle or defensive end in New York’s odd front. In time, coach Rex Ryan might makes stars of both players. He already has gotten a ton of production from the unheralded Mike DeVito at end.

But my choice for this story is starting nose tackle Sione Pouha, who really already established himself on the inside after Kris Jenkins once again was lost to injury early last season. But Pouha needs to be recognized as one of the better nose tackles in all of football. And slowly incorporating Ellis as Pouha’s backup could help the veteran maintain his stamina.

Pouha has the perfect build for the position and is extremely powerful with the ability to handle the double team and allow inside backers Bart Scott and David Harris to run more freely to the ball carrier. Pouha has only 2.5 career sacks, and that will never be his forte, but he now consistently makes everyone around him much better and is an extremely key cog in the Jets’ exceptional defense.

Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.

AFC East draft analysis

April, 30, 2011
4/30/11
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NFC draft analysis: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

The 2011 draft was short on sensationalism for the AFC East.

Even the sexiest pick was easy to rationalize. The New England Patriots took Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett, but the decision didn't seem out of whack in the third round.

Clubs went by the book. They bolstered need positions, concentrating on the trenches early. Very few red flags were raised.

But that doesn't mean the draft was dull.

Here are some draft highlights from the AFC East:

BEST MOVE

The AFC East's best decision of the draft was for the worst team to not get cute.

The Buffalo Bills didn't have to think when they filled out their draft card and sent it up to the commissioner. After the Denver Broncos selected Texas A&M outside linebacker Von Miller, the Bills rejected any thoughts about targeting a quarterback and pounced on Alabama defensive lineman Marcell Dareus, perhaps the safest pick in the entire draft.

Dareus immediately improves Buffalo's pitiful run defense and will help their anemic pass rush, too.

In fact, all four AFC East teams made prudent first-round decisions by reinforcing the lines.

The Miami Dolphins also eschewed quarterbacks, tabbing Florida center Mike Pouncey. The Patriots went with Colorado tackle Nate Solder. The New York Jets added Temple defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson.

RISKIEST MOVE

Had Mallett been taken in the first round or by a team that needed him to play right away, he would've gone down as the riskiest decision. But in the middle of the third round, no expectations to play and a solid infrastructure mitigate the hazards.

The Jets waited a long time between their first and next picks. When they were back on the clock at No. 94, they took Hampton defensive lineman Kenrick Ellis, a player the Jets rated as one of the top two nose tackles in this year's class.

But Ellis was suspended at South Carolina and kicked off the team, reportedly for drug use. Ellis also is facing felony assault charges -- he allegedly broke a man's jaw and nose last April on Hampton's campus. He's scheduled to stand trial in July and could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison if found guilty.

MOST SURPRISING MOVE

[+] EnlargeRas-I Dowling
Lee Coleman/Icon SMINew England took cornerback Ras-I Dowling instead of drafting pass-rush help.
Again, some people would say Mallett was a surprise. I didn't think so in the third round. That's the kind of value selection the Patriots are prone to make -- similar to Texas Christian offensive lineman Marcus Cannon, who tumbled into the fifth round after a recent cancer diagnosis.

The biggest surprise to me was New England's decision not to address its need for pass rush help with the 33rd overall pick. With Pittsburgh's Jabaal Sheard and Arizona's Brooks Reed on the board, Bill Belichick took Virginia cornerback Ras-I Dowling instead.

The Patriots then drafted running backs with back-to-back picks. They went into the draft with backfield needs. They were old last year and had only two backs -- BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead -- under contract.

They drafted California's Shane Vereen in the second round and then Louisiana State's Stevan Ridley 17 picks later in the third round.

It's hard to imagine either Green-Ellis (the AFC East's only 1,000-yard rusher last year) or Woodhead (electrifying fan favorite) being on the outs. So how do the Patriots figure they'll use all these guys?

FILE IT AWAY

The two AFC East teams unsettled at quarterback didn't draft one. The Bills and Dolphins avoided that position.

Each of the two AFC East teams with clear-cut quarterback situations drafted another. The Patriots added Mallett, and the Jets took Alabama's Greg McElroy in the seventh round.

The Jets aren't starting a quarterback controversy. Mark Sanchez is the unquestioned starter, and veteran backup Mark Brunell has another year left on his contract.

But here's an interesting fact: McElroy wore No. 17 his first two college seasons. He switched to No. 12 because it was worn at Alabama by his father's hero, Joe Namath.

Rex Ryan fortifies D-line in third round

April, 29, 2011
4/29/11
10:22
PM ET
The New York Jets didn't have a second-round draft choice, giving them a looooong wait between their first-round announcement Thursday night and their next selection Friday night. With the 94th pick in the draft, they took Hampton defensive tackle Kenrick Ellis.

Why the Jets took him: Jets head coach Rex Ryan sees a potential gem in Ellis, a 6-foot-5, 346-pound lineman with a checkered history. Ellis ended up at Hampton after South Carolina suspended him three games and then kicked him off the team for reported drug usage. The Jets need depth up front, especially if they don't re-sign nose tackle Kris Jenkins.

How it affects the roster: Last year's starters at defensive tackle, Sione Pouha and Mike DeVito, will be back. Ellis will push them for snaps.

Scouts Inc. says: Plays a little too high but rarely gives ground in one-on-one situations and can clog up the middle by occupying multiple blockers when plays with sound technique. Also shows ability to hold ground working against double team if maintaining proper pad level. Thick, powerful arms. Can reach out and latch onto ball carrier with one hand when teams run at him. Plays with too narrow of a base and lacks adequate balance redirecting. Does not possess elite instincts and can be a quarter-count finding and reacting to the ball. Also can bite on misdirection.

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