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Undrafted Free Agent Primer: Alex Hoffman-Ellis

May 23, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams linebacker Alex Hoffman-Ellis walks off the field during an OTA at ContinuityX Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-US PRESSWIRE
May 23, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams linebacker Alex Hoffman-Ellis walks off the field during an OTA at ContinuityX Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-US PRESSWIRE

Every draft ends with disappointment for many athletes. Many college players work their entire collegiate career knowing they probably do not have a legitimate shot of having their name called on draft day. For those players who go without a phone call in April, there is the slim possibility of being brought in as an Undrafted Free Agent.

Hard work, determination, and a little luck could land one of these guys on an NFL roster as a practice squad player, a backup, or maybe even as a starter. Only time will tell for those no-name players, but time, just like the earth, keeps spinning, and before you know it their numbers will be called for termination or promotion. Read on for a look at Alex Hoffman-Ellis.

Image courtesy of US Presswire

Alex Hoffman-Ellis is not your prototypical linebacker prospect. His measurables are ok for the position. At 6’-1" and 232 lbs, he isn’t tall but has bulk. His 253 tackles over three season s at Washington State are impressive. Alex turned in a 4.54 second time in the 40 yard dash and a 36 1/2" vertical at his pro day. Hoffman –Ellis was scouted by 10 to 12 teams (per his agent) and the Oakland Raiders brought him in for a physical before the draft. Rams head coach Jeff Fisher and General Manager Les Snead must have seen something in Hoffman-Ellis to bring him in.

While some see Alex as a practice squad player, I see a flash of potential that could land Hoffman-Ellis a spot as a backup and/or a starter down the road.

In watching film of Hoffman-Ellis, you see a player who is very rarely caught out of position. He seems to read the play very well and sniff out the running lanes. He excels on plays to the outside, often getting to the ball carrier before they can make their second move after the cut up-field. Alex also does well in running with tight ends and receivers underneath in short and intermediate routes. As we have seen over the past few seasons, running with tight ends is becoming more and more important in the NFL. Hoffman-Ellis looks to be one of those men who can do the job well. Although his height is a concern for mismatches, his vertical ability can negate that for most plays.

The coaching staff at Rams Park is more than capable of coaching up Hoffman-Ellis, getting the most out of his potential. Linebackers coaches Jake Williams and Joe Bowden will work together with head coach Jeff Fisher and Dave McGinnis to improve the Rams linebacker corps, which other than middle linebacker James Laurinaitis, is filled with question marks
This first reel is from Alex’s senior year. Its a long one, but shows just what I am talking about in regard to his pre-snap reads and his ability to run to the play.

Going back in time a little, check out how in just his 2nd year of playing football as a freshman JUCO player, he is always around the ball, in the backfield, and contributing huge on special teams.

Of course, all we have to go off of so far is scouting reports and college tape. Once the preseason rolls around, we will get our first glimpse of how his raw skills translate at the NFL level. Often with the position you will see a drop off in those ball hawking instincts until the game slows down for the player. Hopefully for Alex Hoffman-Ellis and the Rams, we see a player who is just as intense and hungry for the ball at the pro level as he was in college. If so, the Rams may have found a diamond in the huge coal mine that is the NFL undrafted free agent pool.