Height: 6007 E
Weight: 236 E
40 Time: 4.63 E
Dannell is an athletic linebacker who displays very good quickness when he wants to. He has fluid hips, allowing him to change directions in run support. In zone coverage, he drops back quite well. Ellerbe's balance and fluid hips enables him to have some success as a blitzer on the outside. (It is worth noting that only in 2 of the 4 games I have scouted has Ellerbe been fully healthy, and I am weighting what I saw in those games more heavily than I otherwise would.)
Physical Talents: 6.0
Ellerbe certainly looks the part of a physically imposing linebacker, actually looks bigger on film than his already stocky size. Despite his physique, his game strength is rarely shown. He has good explosion as a pass-rusher and closing on the ball carrier, but doesn't use it in his tackling due to poor technique, not a lack of athletic ability.
Body Type: 6.5
Ellerbe looks to have a good grasp of his responsibilities versus the run, but struggles somewhat against the option and his tendency to tackle high negates his impressive athleticism. His run play and zone coverage show marginal instincts, as he can be tricked into abandoning his zone and does not diagnose the play very quickly in run support.
Understands Playbook: 6.0
Proper Technique: 5.5
Dannell is frustrating to grade in regards to his effort because he shows all of the hallmarks of an aggressive, big-time linebacker. I have noted him at times playing astounding intense football, sometimes in key situations, but I also have caught him loafing on plays on more than one occassion, and it is apparent when he is trying vs when he is just going through the motions. Ellerbe was injured early in the Alabama game I graded (sprained MCL), but came back in a limited roll before he was fully recovered vs Florida, and made a few big plays. If Ellerbe can consistently play with aggression, he can really improve his grade here.
Clutch Play: 6.5
Football Character: 6.5
Ellerbe is described as being a team leader late in his Georgia career.
Personal Character: 5.0 Ellerbe had serious legal trouble early in his Georgia career, including a 3-game suspension for crashing a teammate's car into a tree, but has kept his nose clean since that 2006 incident and has been described as proof of players learning their lesson.
Durability: 6.0 Over his career he has been very durable, but had the misfortune to injury himself early against Alabama. While he will probably not contend for the Iron Man award, he is unlikely to be an injury concern in the NFL.
Linebacker Specific Skills
Read & React: 6.0 Ellerbe could improve this if he made his reads quicker, but he rarely over pursues.
Initial Quicks: 6.0 Ellerbe does not diagnose the play quickly, but he does have a quick first step in coverage and while blitzing.
Hit Power: 5.5 Ellerbe should be a much more explosive hitter, but has poor tackling form which negates his ability to make hits. This could improve.
Block Shedding: 5.0 Too easily engulfed by the OL. Protects his legs well against cut blocks. Prefers to run around blocks.
Tackling: 5.5 Gets the job done due to natural athleticism, but could do much more with better technique. Tackles high sometimes.
Range: 6.0 For such a good athlete he is involved in surprisingly few outside runs, but takes good angles when not running around blockers.
Man Coverage: 6.0 Rarely utilized in man coverage, but showed an ability to stick with even very athletic TEs.
Zone Coverage: 5.5 Rarely drops back far, and probably cannot perform the deep drops required of middle linebackers in Tampa-2 schemes. Instincts in this category are suspect.
Pass-Rush: 6.0 Ellerbe is a 6.5 if graded simply for edge rushes, which is what he should do if moved to WLB. But he is unable to create pressure rushing up the middle. Few moves but natural athleticism serves him well.
Errors: 6.0 Ellerbe is not a perfect linebacker and can improve, but is rarely flagged and does not overpursue.
Summary: Ellerbe is a frustrating player to grade because his poor form negates a lot of his natural athleticism. I expect him to be drafted earlier than his college production warrants because he will perform well in offseason workouts. Georgia subbed him out quite a bit after he returned from injury because LB Darryl Gamble performed so well in Ellerbe's abscense. When he was on the field, however, Georgia's defense played significantly better than when he was on the bench. He missed his best chance to show off his value to the NFL against a traditional run-oriented offense when he was injured against Alabama, as he is a poor fit against spread offenses. Ellerbe's best suited for a 43 defense as a weakside linebacker, because his limited deep zone coverage will not hurt him too badly and his ability as an edge-rusher will be an immediate asset to whatever team selects him. If a team is patient and coaches him up, they could end up with a very athletic outside linebacker without spending a premium pick. If Ellerbe fails to reach his potential, he likely still has enough athleticism to serve as a decent starter in the NFL. I believe that Ellerbe will achieve enough of his potential to start in this league but is unlikely to correct his tackling to the degree that it becomes a strength, despite his physical ability to so do.
Final Grade: 6.1 I CR
Note: Due to the still-ongoing nature of the college football season, it is very possible, even likely, that I will evaluate Georgia in games that haven't occured yet. for this reason, I retain the right to change any of these reports up until the day of the draft.