June 10, 2023
During the offseason, we'll be taking a close look at Philadelphia Eagles players of interest who are currently on the roster but we may not know a lot about just yet. Today we'll take a look at linebacker Christian Elliss.
Previous player reviews
The Eagles depth at off-ball linebacker currently looks like this:
|LB||Nakobe Dean||Christian Elliss||Davion Taylor|
|LB||Nicholas Morrow||Shaun Bradley||Ben VanSumeren|
Dean is wearing the "green dot" helmet and will start after understudying behind T.J. Edwards and Kyzir White last season. Morrow, for now, is the other projected starter, but it should be noted that he signed a one-year contract worth just $1.09 million, hardly starter money.
Otherwise, they have Bradley, who didn't play a single snap in the regular defense in 2022, Taylor, who spent the season on the practice squad, and VanSumeren, an undrafted rookie. Right now, Elliss is the No. 3 linebacker, and he made some nice plays in OTAs, so, you know, we should maybe get to know him a little?
In the aftermath of their win over the Green Bay Packers in December, the Eagles' special teams were criticized after Packers kick returner Keisean Nixon had kick returns of 38, 52, and 53 yards. At the time, it was merely the latest in a long string of Eagles special teams gaffes during the 2022 season.
In their matchup the next week against the Tennessee Titans, the Eagles called up Elliss from the practice squad as a gameday elevation, and he actually helped make a difference on the coverage units. Elliss would eventually get activated to the 53-man roster and appear in nine games, including the playoffs.
He played in the regular defense in four games, getting a total of 31 snaps. I watched those snaps and cut up video of the plays where Elliss was involved. He was pretty active in his rare playing time, but obviously this is still a pretty quick watch. He's No. 53:
Done? Cool. Here's what I saw:
• 0:10 mark: Great hustle and awareness on fourth down. He gets a depth of about 15 yards down the field while following the tight end (85), but keeps his eyes on the backfield, sees Malik Willis escaping the pocket, identifies the running back (40) as a scramble drill option, and makes the tackle on the back. Eagles ball. Really well done.
• 0:21 mark: Elliss has A gap responsibility, and is still able to trip up the back running through the B gap.
• 0:40: Nice read, missed tackle, but slows up the back and others make the tackle.
• 1:31: Again, nice awareness. The 49ers' circus offense is in full swing, and they're trying to get anything generated without a quarterback, so they call this abomination of a play. Elliss recognizes the hijinx quickly, identifies that George Kittle is running a wheel route, and he sprints to get in phase with him. Christian McCaffrey instead throws it to absolutely nobody. The refs feel bad and don't throw the flag for intentional grounding.
Elliss showed pretty good athleticism at his pro day. Here's how his testing measurables at Idaho's pro day in 2021 compared with Kyzir White's pro day in 2018:
|Measurable||Christian Elliss||Kyzir White|
|Height||6'1 3/4"||6'1 7/8"|
|Arm length||31 3/4"||31 5/8"|
|Hand size||9 1/2"||10 1/8"|
|Vertical jump||35 1/2"||35 1/2"|
|20 yard shuttle||4.26||4.26|
|Bench press||22 reps||21 reps|
Those are pretty similar numbers, so it's not as if Elliss is some unathletic slug who didn't get drafted because he couldn't move. Even
if when the Eagles add another linebacker between now and the start of the 2023 regular season, I would still project Elliss to make the team and continue to contribute on special teams, at a minimum, with a starting role not out of the question if he crushes it in training camp and Morrow falters.
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