With the seventy-second overall selection in the 2008 NFL Draft, the Buffalo Bills have selected Virginia tech defensive end Chris Ellis.
After spending the early part of their free agency period upgrading the interior of their defensive line with the additions of tackles Marcus Stroud and Spencer Johnson, the Bills have added another piece to their defensive line in the form of Ellis, whose strength is as a speed rusher. Ellis immediately becomes the #4 defensive end for the Bills, effectively replacing Anthony Hargrove, an unrestricted free agent who stood no chance of being re-signed by the Bills after failing a drug test, leading to another suspension.
Ellis measures up at 6'4" and 263 pounds, and ran a 4.71-second 40 yard dash at the NFL Combine. That 4.71 speed will serve him well as a rookie, and he has the frame to get bigger. That likely won't happen in Buffalo, where smaller ends are preferred, but his pass rush potential had some 3-4 defensive teams looking at him. Ellis is known to have a quick burst off of the line of scrimmage, helping him to amass 22 career sacks at Virginia Tech, including 8.5 his senior season for a high-quality defense.
There are documented downsides to Ellis as well. Like Buffalo's second-round pick, WR James Hardy, Ellis has some character concerns, as he was suspended in 2006 after being arrested and charged with obstructing justice and resisting arrest. Like Hardy, he's also matured since that incident, by all accounts. There are also questions about Ellis' instincts and ability to consistently shed blockers. He is certainly not an every-down player immediately as he enters the NFL, but he won't have to be in Buffalo.
I like this pick. Ellis figures to be a solid edge rusher on third downs, and coming from Virginia Tech - a school that is known for producing top-flight special teams players - Ellis figures to help out on the kicking units as well. It's not a flashy pick, but this year isn't about making flashy picks for the Bills. It's about finding guys who can contribute immediately, and in terms of being a third-down pass rusher and special teamer with room to grow into a starter, Ellis fits the bill.
Use this post as an open thread. Buffalo's next pick is at #114 overall in the fourth round. If any trades or picks happen as they pertain to the Bills, you know that Buffalo Rumblings has you covered.