Cards Show Interest in Versatile Pass-rusher

Arizona's defense is in dire need of a young pass-rusher. While GM Rod Graves may target a defender in round one, there should be plenty of value later in the draft. The Cards have expressed interest in one defensive end, meeting with him twice and attending his Pro Day. Brad Wilbricht speaks with the versatile player in this Cardinalinsider.com exclusive.

Virginia Tech DE Chris Ellis is one of the most versatile defensive prospects in this year's draft. He played both defensive end and outside linebacker in college and projects as a hybrid DE/OLB in the NFL.

Ellis was a three-year starter for the Hookies and a first-team All-ACC performer in 2007. He finished a productive college career with 185 total tackles, 35.5 tackles for a loss and 22 sacks.

Ellis boasts adequate size (6'4", 260 pounds) and has room to add bulk. He displays outstanding quickness off the edge and is strong at the point of attack. Additionally, he features good athletic ability and tremendous explosion, allowing him to shed blockers and chase down running backs in the open field.

Ellis' versatility makes him an ideal fit for the Cardinals 3-4 defense. His style of play is comparable to former Cardinals OLB Calvin Pace. Ellis has similar size, but would provide superior play-making ability and upgraded speed.

Arizona defensive line coach Ron Aiken met with Ellis at the Combine and discussed the Cardinals transition to the 3-4 defense. Ellis feels he'd be an excellent fit in the 3-4 scheme, something he was determined to prove at his recent Pro Day.

The Cardinals were in attendance for his workout along with 70 other coaches and scouts.

"I wanted to show explosion and that I can play standing up, since a lot of teams are switching to the 3-4 defense. I also wanted to show my athleticism and versatility. I think I met all my goals," Ellis said.

While veterans Bert Berry and Chike Okeafor are still quality performers, their time in the NFL may be limited. Both players are over 30 and are coming of major injuries. Ellis could contribute immediately as a pass-rushing specialist and has the potential to develop into a full-time starter.

When asked if there's a particular team he'd like to play for, Ellis expressed no favoritism and would be excited for any opportunity that comes his way.

"I'd like to play for whoever drafts me," he said. "I just need a job."

With many teams showing significant interest, Ellis should have no problem finding a new employer this April. If he's available when the Cardinals are on the clock in the third round, his new job might have him headed to the desert.


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