"Every year, as we work through tape of the underclassmen, there are a handful of prospects who emerge as pleasant surprises. This year is no different. South Carolina WR Bruce Ellington has jumped out at us on tape, joining USC center Marcus Martin and UNC center Russell Bodine in the "pleasant surprise" category. Listed at 5-foot-9 and 196 pounds, Ellington is a highly competitive player who lacks ideal measurables, but he has a well-built frame that resembles a running back more than a wide receiver.
The first thing that pops out is his "play speed." Ellington is a quick starter who gets from zero to 60 mph in a hurry to stretch the field vertically, and he flashes an explosive burst out of his cuts while maintaining quality balance. He also has a natural feel as a route-runner. Ellington does a nice job of gaining initial leverage and using tempo to create separation from man coverage. In addition, he avoids traffic well and displays excellent spatial awareness out of cuts to quickly exploit downfield soft spots against zone coverage.
Ellington served as the South Carolina basketball team's starting point guard last season before leaving the team this year to train solely for the NFL after making the decision to declare for the draft. Basketball players are normally appealing to scouts as receivers, especially tight ends because it speaks to their hand-eye coordination. Ellington fits the mold; while he lacks an ideal catch radius, he displays soft hands and tracks the ball well in the air.
Overall, Ellington's best fit at the next level looks to be working inside, where his combination of suddenness, speed and route-running could provide a lot of matchup problems from the slot. In speaking with a few scouts, Ellington has exceptional intangibles and should draw attention in the late third round or early fourth round in May's draft.
[ Edited by Phoenix49ers on Feb 3, 2014 at 9:00 AM ]