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Jabari Ellis has gotten this far, now can UDFA DT make the Giants’ roster?

Ellis getting a shot at the NFL seemed unlikely just a few years ago

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 13 South Carolina at Missouri
Jabari Ellis
Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

There was a time when getting an NFL opportunity seemed unlikely for former South Carolina defensive tackle Jabari Ellis. Now that he has one with the New York Giants, what can the undrafted free agent do with it?

Let’s talk about Ellis as we continue our player-by-player profiles of the Giants’ 90-man roster.

By the numbers

Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 278
Age: 23
Position: Defensive tackle
Experience: Rookie
Contract: Year 1 if three-year, $2.56 million undrafted free agent deal | 2022 cap hit: $705,000

Career to date

Ellis took a circuitous path to this opportunity with the Giants. He spent two seasons at Georgia Military Academy before landing a scholarship to South Carolina. He played in only five games his first two seasons with the Gamecocks, before becoming a regular part of the defense the last two seasons. In 27 games, he finished with 81 tackles (44 solo, 9.5 for loss) and 3.0 sacks. He was a team captain for South Carolina in 2021.

“I would never imagine I would grow into that and do what I became on and off the field,” Ellis said. “I’m big in the community because I grew up as a kid being hopeless. Many people don’t make it from that environment in South Carolina to the NFL or even make it to college football. I understand how that feels to be hopeless, so I want to always reach back and let the youth know that whatever you want to do is possible.”

The Giants, according to Ellis, had been in contact with him throughout the draft process.

“It always feels good to be wanted,” Ellis told The State in the hours after the draft. “The Giants were the team that was here (looking at me) early through the process and they always told me how much value I was to them. It was easy for me to make that decision.”

The Giants reached out to Ellis, he said, in the sixth round with an assurance they’d like to add him to the roster, though they didn’t have any remaining picks at the time.

Ellis could exhale.

“To be honest, when I got off the phone with the Giants, I stopped watching the draft,” he quipped. “I was good. I was straight already.”

2022 outlook

It is hard to see a path to the 53-man roster for Ellis. Then again, learn his story and it seems like it was hard at times to see a path to him even getting this opportunity.

Leonard Williams, Dexter Lawrence, D.J. Davidson and Justin Ellis seem like the first four players on the defensive line depth chart. Ellis is competing with David Moa and other undrafted players like Ryder Anderson, Jalyn Holmes and Chris Hinton.

At the least, one or two of those players figure to land on the 16-player practice squad.