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The 53: Longtime Pass Rusher Gets A Spot


The most important part of each season may be the daily practice grind in July and August when a team is truly built. As a countdown to this year's training camp, we celebrate the 53rd year of Cowboys football by constructing the team's all-time 53-man roster, picking one player from each season.

Not so much the 53 best players in club history, has constructed the ultimate team, filling out the depth chart and making room for contributors at every position, including special teams, while at the same time looking ahead to how this year's 53-man roster might shake out.

The series continues today with 2007 and Greg Ellis, a reserve outside linebacker for The Ultimate 53.

Name: Greg Ellis
Position: Outside Linebacker
College: North Carolina
Height/Weight: 6-6/265
Cowboys Tenure: 1998-2008

Why Him? As maligned as the Cowboys were for choosing Ellis over wide receiver Randy Moss in the first round of the 1998 NFL Draft, the pick was actually very solid. While Ellis was never among the league's most feared pass-rushers, he was a team leader throughout his career and an all-around defensive end, playing the run as well as any. For the majority of his time in Dallas he had little help up front, and was the first pass-rusher opposing offenses focused their attention on, but after DeMarcus Ware joined the team and the Cowboys switched to the 3-4 scheme, Ellis moved to a stand-up outside linebacker position, and things opened up for him a bit. In 2007, a year removed from a season-ending torn Achilles, he posted a career-high 12.5 sacks.

The Role: On The Ultimate 53, which uses the current defensive alignment, Ellis fills in as a backup outside linebacker, a true third-down specialist, which would've been an ideal role for him in the latter part of his career. While Ellis was never comfortable with the coverage aspects of his spot in the 3-4, he was the best pass-rushing complement to Ware that the team has had.

Back To The Future: In the fourth round of this year's NFL Draft, the Cowboys added another young edge player who has already completed the transition from playing with his hand on the ground, Kyle Wilber of Wake Forest. Though he should play primarily on special teams as a rookie, and fill in behind veterans Anthony Spencer and Victor Butler, the team has high hopes that Wilber has both the strength and athleticism to one day start at outside linebacker.

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