He'd love to be the next Sapp

He's short (by defensive line standards), he's stocky and he loves the Cover 2. He has great respect for former Bucs DT Warren Sapp. And he has no problem campaigning to come to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Find out why this USC defensive tackle is gung-ho about the Bucs in this premium feature.

The names roll easily off Sedrick Ellis' tongue.

Warren Sapp. Anthony "Booger" McFarland.

Ellis knows they played in Tampa Bay. He knows they played the all-important under tackle in the Cover 2.

And Ellis would love nothing more than to follow in their footsteps and play for the Buccaneers and defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin.

"He'd (Kiffin) be a great man to play under," Ellis said on Monday at the Senior Bowl, where he's playing for the North team. "I've met him a few times. I think it would be a perfect fit — if he's listening.

"I feel like it's the perfect scheme for me. The Bucs linemen get upfield and make plays and I feel like offensive linemen have to respect that."

Ellis said he hadn't met with the Bucs as of Monday morning, but he said he'd love a meeting. Given that the Bucs have already met with Arkansas' Marcus Harrison, a defensive tackle in Ellis' mold and considered a lesser prospect, a meeting this week in Mobile may just happen.

Kiffin mentored Southern Cal coach Pete Carroll in the 1970s and worked under Carroll with the Jets in 1990 when Carroll was the defensive coordinator. The Trojans run a near-carbon copy version of the Cover 2. Ellis (6-foot-1, 307 pounds) fits the physical makeup of a Sapp (6-foot-2, 300 pounds) and McFarland (6-foot, 300 pounds). That's probably why Ellis referenced the pair while talking to reporters.

Sapp, naturally, defined the under tackle position during his tenure with the Bucs (1995-2003) and still owns several team records. McFarland took Sapp's place until he was traded to the Indianapolis Colts in 2006, but never quite assumed Sapp's mantle as a completely disruptive presence inside.

The current under tackle, Jovan Haye, had a fine season in his first full year as a starter, but his talent and size lend themselves better to passing situations, where he netted half a dozen sacks. With Haye inside, the Bucs ranked just 17th against the run in 2007. The Bucs may feel they need to add some bulk inside to shore up their run defense.

So a player like Ellis might fit the bill. Ellis said he's played both the under tackle and nose positions in USC's defense and can play the zero, one or three-technique, the three being the under tackle.

I'm planning on that helping me in the draft," Ellis said. "I'm trying to maximize that as much as possible."

But most look at Ellis as a tackle in a 4-3 defense and his career at USC made it easy to see why. Ellis is a 2-time First Team All-American, made the Football Coaches, Walter Camp and The Sporting News All-American first teams and was named the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year in 2007. Ellis had 56 tackles, 28 of them solo, including 12.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 quarterback sacks and two fumble recoveries during the 2007 regular season. In his career, he has 28.5 tackles for a loss and 17.5 sacks.

Scouts say Ellis can be disruptive against the run when he's able to penetrate and create pressure in the backfield, thanks to his long arms and ability to disengage from blocks. He's also quicker than his frame suggests and has been clocked at 4.95 in the 40-yard dash.

Most scouts see Ellis as one of the few defensive tackles that have first-round talent. Scout.com ranks Ellis No. 2 at the position behind LSU's Glenn Dorsey.

Ellis had a dominant day against his North teammates on Monday in their first practice at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

And that's what Ellis has his sights set on this week in Mobile — dominance.

"The most important thing about this week is getting out there and playing with top caliber players," Ellis said. "I want to see how I fare against them. You go up against a college team and they usually have one or two good offensive linemen. This week everyone's good. It's the best of the best. You dominate against these guys, who's left to beat? That's what I plan on doing, faring well against the best and not leaving questions in anyone's mind."

Sounds almost Sapp-like, doesn't it?

Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for BucsBlitz.com and the Charlotte Sun-Herald in Port Charlotte, Fla. An award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers Association, he appears frequently on Scot Brantley Show from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WHBO 1470-AM in Tampa-Clearwater.


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