Saints Q&A: Sedrick Ellis

The New Orleans Saints selected USC DT Sedrick Ellis on Saturday in the first round of the NFL Draft. Want to get to know Ellis? Here's an expansive interview he gave to the media at the scouting combine in February. Get the inside scoop on the newest Saint.

You looked comfortable at the Senior Bowl at nose tackle. Is that where you see yourself?

Sedrick Ellis: I can do either – the nose tackle, the 1 technique, or the 2 technique. I played both in college so I'm used to doing that kind of thing. Whatever a team needs me to play I'll play.

What did you learn from Mike Patterson?

Sedrick Ellis: I learned a lot from Mike Patterson. He's a great tackle. I definitely learned how to work every day from Mike Patterson. He's a great worker and his techniques are very well, I think I picked that stuff up from him. Have you received any added attention since the Senior Bowl?

Sedrick Ellis: I think that definitely helped me a lot, just going out there and competing told a lot of teams a lot about me. Not being scared to go out there and put everything on the line and do my best.

How much did Pete Carroll's NFL background help prepare you?

Sedrick Ellis: I think it helped a lot. Coach Carroll is a great coach. He takes time to sit down and talk with players individually and tell them what they need to do and what they shouldn't do. I think it's helped me and a lot of other guys a lot.

Talk about being given awards voted on by your peers?

Sedrick Ellis: That's a great honor. I believe I'm one of just two people to have done that. That's a great honor. I hold it as one of the best awards because it's voted on by your peers, by the people you play against so I hold that in high regard.

Talk about the different schemes you played in?

Sedrick Ellis: They did have different philosophies. Coach Carroll's scheme is a scheme so they have to fit their philosophy into his scheme. That helped me, but they had different attitudes and different ways about coaching and teaching you things. Coach (Ed) Orgeron is a harder style, he's more of a yelling guy, get in your face and make sure that you do it. Jethro (Franklin) was more a laid back guy, talk to you, and Coach Nick Holt is kind of a mixture of both. I don't think it was a problem but it was definitely different styles.

Did that help you?

Sedrick Ellis: Definitely. SC is kind of like a pro program, you know? They bring guys in, guys leave when they get better jobs and they come back. I think that will definitely help me at the next level transition between different coaches.

Do you think more defensive linemen should be ranked higher in this draft?

Sedrick Ellis: My opinion might be kind of biased about that but yeah I definitely think some defensive linemen should be up there, especially tackles. They have a hard job and a lot of times the tackles don't get credit for things that happen but that's part of the job description. You have to expect that and play the game

Would you be comfortable making the move to a 3-4 defense?

Sedrick Ellis: I'm pretty comfortable with that. Coach Carroll has implemented a 3-4 scheme in the last two years into our defense, which was mainly a 4-3. I've been playing a lot of ‘zero' technique, playing the two-gap system, and I was actually pretty good at it. I didn't know how I would fare at it but it turned out I was very good at it so I'm very comfortable.

Talk about your progression after Mike Patterson left?

Sedrick Ellis: Me and Coach Carroll have a great relationship but now that you mention that after Mike left the next year we played Hawaii and I had a horrible game. Coach Carroll called me into his office and told me ‘We need you right now and you have to step up and you have to fill some big shoes.' The next week I went out and had some great practices and worked hard because I didn't want to let him down as a coach and I didn't want to let my teammates down. I came out and had a great game the next week and kept progressing. I progressively got better. I think with time out on the field is what makes a player like myself better, just getting out there doing things and getting acclimated to the whole system and how things are going to work.

Do you feel you were a worthy successor to the players that came before you?

Sedrick Ellis: He's (Patterson) definitely one of those players I looked up to, he and Shawn Cody, but there comes a time where it's your time and you have to step up and do your thing to the best of your ability. I definitely think I played up to that standard if not better at some points. Mike Patterson is a great tackle – don't get me wrong – and I'm not taking anything away from him but I definitely feel I played up to his standard.

Do you think your height is an advantage in terms of leverage?

Sedrick Ellis: That is totally correct. A lot of people like taller tackles but I think my height is just great. You get these big 6-5 linemen and I can get up underneath them and uproot them out of what they're trying to do. Great feet work, great hands and the leverage I think works to my advantage a lot.

Do you need to add weight to play nose tackle?

Sedrick Ellis: I think I can do it at 309. At 309 I'm moving fast and very few of those guys who can keep up with me. I have no problem playing double teams, as you guys have seen in the Senior Bowl and often in my career at SC when I took on double teams. I never had a problem with it before so I don't see why it should be a problem

Didn't you have a celebration that drew a penalty?

Sedrick Ellis: The thing about that is I've been doing that same celebration for two years and it wasn't anything taunting a player or taunting the fans or anything like that. It's just something that I have with my guys and the coaches on the team that we all took part in and all enjoyed. I've been doing that for years and never got any kind of penalty or anything like that. I don't feel like it was flagrant at all but some refs have different opinions on things and he threw the flag so I have to take it.

Do you expect to be asked about that here?

Sedrick Ellis: I haven't been asked about it so far. Like I said, if you watch it you can tell there wasn't anything flagrant about it. I wasn't doing it to taunt him, to taunt their fans, I was just doing it to create some excitement and have a little fun out there. I know in college they don't allow a lot of that stuff but I've been doing that for years. If I had known it was going to be a penalty believe me I wouldn't have done it. That's not in my character at all.

How many interviews have you had since been here?

Sedrick Ellis: I can't even count. On the 24th I have 12 on one day. I think they're holding me off so I have 12 of them back to back to back. I've done a few in the rooms with the coaches just meeting with them but my actual interviews are on the 24th

What's the weirdest question you've gotten?

Sedrick Ellis: I had one coach ask me what would I change about myself. I looked at him and said I kind of like myself so I really wouldn't change much. I think that might have been one of weirdest questions I got.

Would you rather have many players competing for top DT spot in draft or be that definitive No. 1 guy?

Sedrick Ellis: That's kind of a hard question because as a player you always thrive on competition but then again it would be cool to be that elite guy and I'm working toward being that elite guy. You've got Glenn Dorsey who is a great tackle from LSU so I'm looking forward to meeting him. We're going to battling for a lot of stuff in the next few months. He throws a punch and I throw a punch. It's going to come down to pretty slim pickings up there. I think there are three of us in the top 15 or something like that. Teams need tackles and tackles aren't something you can make from a different position. We're kind of born. Not everybody has the body type. It will be interesting.

Are you surprised that you're as hot as you are?

Sedrick Ellis: No I'm not surprised. I worked hard to get here. A lot of players in my position would have left a year ago but I chose to stay at school and finish my classes and get my degree from USC and also at the same time be a great football player. (NOTE: Ellis is scheduled to graduate in May with a Sociology degree. He is finishing up last two classes this spring.) We have a great system that puts a lot of players in the NFL so I got with coach Carroll and we talked about that. It's been a lot of hard work that's gotten me here. I wouldn't say I'm surprised. I'm thankful, but I'm not surprised.

Is this the scenario what you envisioned when you decided to stay your senior season?

Sedrick Ellis: I just tried to be as good as I could be. I never thought it would get to this point. I hoped I could be this or be that but realistically you never know what's going to happen in this game. You might get hurt or something else might happen so I'm just happy that God has allowed me to stay healthy for this long and gave me the abilities that I have to go out there and play at such a high level with guys that play at a high level. I'm just thankful for those abilities and I worked really hard at it. Coach Carroll worked really hard at coaching me, and his staff. With all of that work put together you get a good product

Did you take out a Lloyd's of London insurance policy?

Sedrick Ellis: No I didn't. I know of a lot of players who did but I didn't do that. I'm not saying that's not smart but I didn't choose to go that route. I know it's real life but I try not to think in those contexts. If you think about getting hurt and have that kind of attitude you kind of jinx yourself. I try to keep those bad ideas out of my mind and play full speed and not stand around piles and things like that. It's fared me well thus far.

What's it like having so many defensive prospects from USC after so many years of more offensive prospects?

Sedrick Ellis: I played with a lot of those guys you're talking about. I was just a young pup when (Matt) Leinart and all of those guys were coming into their time. I think that was my first year playing and we were all young. It's transitioned to where now all of the guys on defense are coming out, me and Lawrence Jackson and Terrell Thomas and all of those guys. It's kind of transitioned but we have some offensive guys here too.

Do you ever think Carroll will return to NFL?

Sedrick Ellis: I think Coach Carroll loves his job at USC right now. He has it real good there. He has a great talent pool being in Southern California and he runs that team exactly the way he wants it run. It's coordinated to his likes and how he wants it run so I think he's very comfortable down there. I think he has everything he wants. You never know and he could go back to the NFL but from what I've seen I think he likes his job there and he'll be there for awhile.

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