The New Orleans Saints aggressively moved up three spots to take Southern Cal defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis in the first round of the NFL Draft on Saturday.
Ellis (6-foot, 308 pounds) had 8 ½ sacks in his final season at USC.
The Saints, who started the day at No. 10 overall, moved up to No. 7 after dealing New England the No. 10 pick and their third-round pick. In return, the Saints received the rights to the Patriots' No. 7 pick and the Patriots' fifth-round pick on Sunday, giving the Saints two fifth-round selections.
By taking Ellis, the Saints addressed a key need — defensive tackle. The Saints have two aging tackles in Brian Young and Hollis Thomas and could use an infusion of youth.
The Saints were believed to be interested in LSU defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, and may have attempted a trade to move up to No. 5 to acquire Dorsey. But in the end the Chiefs selected Dorsey and the Saints moved up two spots to acquire the second-best tackle in the draft.
Nick Athan, publisher of warpaintillustrated.com, told saintsinsider.com that the Saints offered their 10th overall pick, their seventh-rounder this year and their No. 1 pick next year. Athan said the Chiefs would have made the deal if the Saints had included their second-round or third-round pick this year.
Ellis, scouts say, is difficult to block, a classic one-gap penetrator and a versatile defender that can handle the run and the pass. His 8 ½ sacks are key, as the Saints generated just 33 sacks a year ago and were ranked No. 30 overall in pass defense.
Scout.com analyst Tom Marino, who spent 35 years as a pro football scout, has loved Ellis from the start.
"Ellis has outstanding quickness, body control, range and balance," Marino said. "Plays with good leverage, has extremely quick strong hands and overall explosiveness. Can stack, but was more effective playing in the gap. Far better at nose than at a 3 technique. Has short arms and does not appear to have long speed. Very disruptive player in a limited area but is not second coming of Tommy Harris. A top 10 selection in this year's draft. Solid starter potential."
Caplan had high praise for the deal in his blog.
"With both of their starting two defensive tackles into their 30's, the team had to get younger in the interior of their defense and they've done that with Ellis," Caplan said. "He's got a faster first step than Glenn Dorsey and he can be just as disruptive — he's just not as wide. Ellis will provide an immediate impact for a defense that is in dire need of help for the interior of their front four."
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Matthew Postins is the publisher of Saintsinsider.com. He is an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers Association.