The Arizona Cardinals have a private workout with Bruce Ellington lined up, and honestly it couldn’t make more sense.
I’ve talked before about Arians seemingly having a type at the wide receiver position, and Ellington seems to fit that profile.
Bruce Ellington, WR, South Carolina
5-9, 197 lbs.
4.45 40-yard dash
6.69 three-cone drill
• Thickly built, compact receiver who is short, but by no means small.
• Quick off the snap, allowing him to win immediately off the line of scrimmage and avoid press coverage.
• Excellent change of direction skills, with the ability to cut and move on a dime.
• Uses his lateral agility to create space and make defenders miss.
• Good balance and fluid feet.
• Possesses rare hand-eye coordination and body control.
• Elite skills as a runner with the ball in his hands.
• Tracks the ball well and uses his hands to catch.
• Deft at catching over either shoulder.
• Wins jump balls despite his “short” stature.
• Uncanny athleticism. Was the starting point guard for the South Carolina basketball team.
• Limited route running at South Carolina means he has work to do when he comes to the NFL.
• Doesn’t attack defenders in the run game, too often shows a lack of effort/interest.
• While he wins consistently at the catch point, he can get overwhelmed by longer/stronger athletes.
• Uses his athleticism and change of direction skills too often to get open, abandoning routes and making his quarterback adjust to him.
• Can he win from the slot consistently, where he will line up most of the time in the NFL?
• Doesn’t possess elite long speed. Ellington is more of a quick burst type player.
Ellington has the size, speed and ability to make tacklers miss that fans and coaches love, but there are concerns.
His limited route running experience will mean he has to come in and learn the entire route tree. But the poor running of the routes he does know means he has to learn those over as well.
Ellington isn’t used to playing in a highly structured/timing necessary type offense, where he has to be at a certain spot when a quarterback is ready to throw the ball.
When he catches the ball, he is a highlight waiting to happen and a threat to take any touch to the end zone.
The things Ellington has going for him are the things that are not teachable, which is a huge plus, but his free-lancing and lack of route concepts may hurt his immediate impact on the field. That brings into question how early can you feel comfortable taking him?
The Cardinals have a good duo of wide receivers, and while they brought in veteran Ted Ginn Jr., he isn’t necessarily the classic third receiver you are looking for.
Ellington’s ability to make plays with the ball in his hands is similar to his cousin’s, current Cardinals RB Andre Ellington, but there are questions if he offers anything different from what his cousin brings to the table.
Can he learn to run routes correctly and consistently in Bruce Arians’ tightly-run offense, one that even saw a veteran like Larry Fitzgerald struggle at times?
Will he be able to be that middle of the field safety net for Carson Palmer, while still being able to get deep when needed?
His lack of refinement in the route tree is concerning, but it’s easy to forget about that when you turn on the tape and watch Ellington make plays when he gets the ball in his hands.
He’s an interesting fit as a day-three receiver because if he learns the nuances of the game, he has high-end number-two receiver potential, in the Randall Cobb mold, but it could take time to get there and his price may be too high with the late day two chatter going on.