In terms of pure football playing ability, Kenrick Ellis has first round ability. Usually a guy as talented as him does not last until the end of the third round. When that does happen, there is usually a reason.
Ellis' past is not totally clean. He started his career at the University of South Carolina but dismissed from the team after one season. Reports seem to indicate this was due to failing at least one drug test and possibly more than one.
Is this a concern? Maybe a little bit since there are NFL stories like Ricky Williams. Is it an automatic disqualifier? Think this through. Not every reader on this site has gone to college. Those who have, though, know how frequently people do things like that in college and go on to lead normal lives. Even those of us who never experimented most likely know people who did and moved on.
Ellis is also facing a felony assault charge for an incident last year. Reports are that he and his girlfriend were attacked with a guy with a baseball bat, and Ellis allegedly punched the guy in the jaw, breaking the jaw. While he was indicted in court, that does not sound like much of an indictment of Ellis. Mark Cannizzaro wrote in an article that he has a source who says it will never get to trial.
What is telling to me is the way his head coach at Hampton is willing to vouch for him.
"The one incident he had this past year — I think anybody in that circumstance would have done that," Hampton football coach Donovan Rose told the Daily Press. "Someone kind of approached him over a young lady. Besides that, since he’s been at Hampton, he’s a kid that’s been a ‘yes sir, no sir’ guy.... He has been — I’m not going to say a model guy — but he’s been accountable."
And this nugget from the Cannizzaro article:
Rose called the fight "a self-defense matter," adding, "In all the time we had him at Hampton, that’s the only blemish in his three years."
"He’s been a model guy, a team leader," Rose said. "All of us have done one thing
or another in the past. He’s a great guy. I call him a gentle giant. He’s a ‘yes-sir, no-sir’ guy. He’s a great find for the Jets."
This is the guy with the most experience molding Ellis on the football field and has generally good things to say. He has no reason to lie. If a player is a bad guy in college, the coach has no reason to protect the player. If a player has made a coach's life a pain, it is a way for a coach to get retribution. A lot of people wonder how Marques Colston fell to the seventh round. I have read that his college coaches did not get along with him and eviscerated him when speaking to pro teams.
Are there some legitimate concerns about Kenrick Ellis? Yes, I think so. Are they as severe as a lot of people make them out to be? I tend to think not. Mike Tannenbaum is a lawyer. He understands the legal system. He also has a high success rate vetting potential problem players and integrating them into the locker room. I doubt he is dumb enough to use a third round pick on a guy if he thought there was more than a minuscule chance of him going to prison.
Ellis is a young guy who has made some mistakes. I would not be surprised if he overcame them.