Is Jayrone Elliot the next Hidden Gem for the Packers?

NFL, Green Bay Packers, Jayrone Elliott, Jayrone Elliott Packers, Packers roster cuts, Packers preseason, Packers training camp

It’s practically become a tradition every training camp and preseason for the Green Bay Packers: some player, either a late round draft pick or even an undrafted free agent makes some plays in camp and the preseason and becomes an instant sensation amongst fans and the media.

First, it was Matt Hasselbeck (sixth round pick in 1998) and he went on to have a very long and productive playing career after he became a July and August sensation in preseason games backing up Brett Favre.

Then came linebacker Desmond Bishop (sixth round pick in 2007) who lit up offensive players in the preseason before finally cracking the staring lineup in 2010 after Nick Barnett went down with a season-ending wrist injury. Bishop was a key contributor to the Packers’ Super Bowl XLV title and led to Barnett’s departure that offseason

This year, the Packers may have another such player on their hands this year in undrafted free agent defensive end-turned-outside linebacker Jayrone Elliott.

Elliott made a name for himself in Green Bay’s second preseason game when he had three sacks against the St. Louis Rams in four snaps. Immediately Packers fans began asking themselves one question.

“Who is this guy?”

Well, Elliott was born on November 11, 1991 in Cleveland, Ohio. That he was born on 11-11 (which has some special meaning to numerologists who think it signifies some spiritual presence) perhaps was some foreshadowing of his rise to fame with the Packers.

Elliott attended Toledo where he played defensive end and led the team with six sacks in 2012 before collecting 14 sacks in 2013 and being named First Team All-MAC. Even though he was a dominant force in the conference last season, the fact that he attended a smaller school undoubetdly affected his draft stock and led to him not being selected in the seven round NFL Draft in May.

Enter Packers general manager Ted Thompson. Thompson doesn’t mind rolling the dice on players from small schools and sees them as potential diamonds in the rough. Therefore, the Packers signed Elliott as an undrafted free agent and brought him into training camp.

Elliott got his chance and he has seized the opportunity with both hands. He followed up his performance against the Rams with a sack and a tipped pass again as the Oakland Raiders last Friday. After that game, Elliott must be considered pretty close to being a lock for making the team.

Before anyone anoints him as another weapon the Packers need to use, keep in mind Elliott looked simply “ok” against the Raiders starters. Once their backups came in however, Elliott flashed his skills. This doesn’t condemn him to being a backup, but rather it serves as a reminder that he is still a rookie and has plenty to learn.

The good news though is that, as of right now, Elliott has a pretty high ceiling. Given that the Packers still aren’t sure what they have in Nick Perry, Elliott is definitely worth keeping around to continue developing. One can never have enough pass rushers right?

With the final roster cutdown fast approaching, all eyes will be on Elliott in the final preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Coach Mike McCarthy has already gone on record saying Elliott will get the most playing time he has seen all preseason against the Chiefs so if he wants to lock up a roster spot beyond a reasonable doubt, now is the time.

For a team that has struggled with a pass rush in recent seasons, the Packers suddenly have an abundance of players who can get to the quarterback. Adding Elliott to the bunch just gives defensive coordinator Dom Capers one more weapon in his arsenal.

Who knows? Maybe Elliott could be one spark that helps propel the Packers to Super Bowl XLIX in Arizona in February.

Now that would be a storybook ending.

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Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com.

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  • aaronqb

    I like the way Elliott plays. Holds the edge, active in rushing the passer, good quickness and agility. Even if he makes the 53-man roster, I would not look for him to play very much. There are 3 or 4 very good OLBs ahead of him – Matthews, Peppers, Neal, and maybe Perry. Elliott is a project with what looks to be a high ceiling. Sometimes (like Sam Shields) they approach that high ceiling. More often, though, they do not (Moses, So’oto, Zombo).

    Unfortunately for TT and the Packers, Elliott either needs to be on the Packer 53-man roster or he will be on another team’s 53-man roster. It’s not likely he would clear waivers to be put onto the practice squad.

    • montana83

      I have never understood the 53 man roster and dress the best 46 for a game. A 60 man roster with 54 dressing or something like that makes more sense to me. Too many players are injured during the year and why not be able to keep enough back-ups instead of guessing and getting rid of good players. The practice squad can be raided too easily.

      We have had up to 15 players injured during the year recently. 46 players really gives you a punter, a kicker and only 2 players per position: 22 positions x 2 players + 2 kickers = 46

      54 players suiting up would give a team (1) extra of the following: OL, RB, WR, QB, TE, DL, LB and a DB or whatever you wished.

      I suppose the players union wants it the current way, but I still don’t care for it much. Anyone else agree with me?

      The article below explains the musical chair game played by teams each week, but this seems illogical.

      http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1640782-the-anatomy-of-a-53-man-roster-in-the-nfl

      • Tundraboy

        Totally agree. With the amount of season ending injuries the rules have to change.

  • Archie

    Elliott passes the eyeball test for an OLB in a 3-4. He also has flashed more than any OLB since CMIII. He did seem lost in coverage one time that I noticed. I’d play him in front of any OLB not named CMIII until he proves he can’t make an impact against #1s.

    • Archie

      I meant to also say, in sure passing situations.

      • marpag

        Regardless of who the other OLB is, if you’re in a passing situation and you pair Peppers in a down position with Mike Daniels, and have CMIII on one side and Santa Claus on the other… then Santa starts to look like a force. But in that case I’d like someone out there with a few moves (like Elliott perhaps) better than a designated bullrusher like Perry.

        Just saw a stat today from last season. Capers uses ILBs in coverage 45% of the snaps or so, and OLBs only about 10%. If Elliott has a ways to go in coverage, he can still work as a nickel rusher. I think this is one of the reasons why the coaching staff likes Brad Jones at ILB a little bit. His coverage seems a tick better than some of the other options.

  • http://www.lyrictrumpet.com Bearmeat

    Zombo, Walden, So’Oto.. yawn….. I’ll wait for Elliot to make a dent when games matter to really get excited. But he does warrant keeping on the 53 over all but the top 4 guys at OLB.

  • Big T

    Elliot over Nick Fairy anyday….