04/30/2012 - A closer look at the Vikings' picks: Round 4/128 - Rhett Ellison, TE/FB, 6-5, 250, Southern California...A fullback-tight end hybrid in the mold of a Jim Kleinsasser, who retired after 13 seasons. - The Sports Xchange
Ellison was a three-star recruit out of high school, choosing USC over Virginia Tech.
After redshirting in 2007, he saw some action as a reserve tight end/fullback in 2008 as redshirt freshman, recording 4 catches for 58 yards (14.5). Ellison was again mostly used as a backup in 2009 as a sophomore, finishing with 6 receptions for 41 yards (6.8) and his first career touchdown.
He became the full-time starter in 2010 as a junior, recording 21 catches for 239 yards (11.4) and a career-best three touchdowns. Ellison was again the starting tight end/fullback in 2011 as a senior and started all 12 games, finishing with a career-best 23 catches for 133 yards (5.8) and two touchdowns
Ellison really blossomed the last two seasons (started all 25 games) as a consistent contributor and took advantage of coach Lane Kiffins creative play-calling. He is extremely versatile and lined up all over the field, doing whatever was asked of him, including playing special teams (even blocked a field-goal attempt at Colorado).
He doesn't have the softest pair of hands, but usually finds a way to reel in the catch. Ellison doesn't excel in any one area, but is solid in all of them and has very good intangibles with very good character, work ethic and passion for the game. He is a third-day prospect who can wear several hats and will work his butt off for whichever team gives him a chance.
Strengths: Ellison is a versatile option with experience lining up on the line of scrimmage as a tight end, in the backfield at fullback and out wide as a receiver. He is a quick athlete and is usually sure-handed as a receiver. Ellison is a much improved route runner, creating space in coverage. He is a highly competitive player and quickly gets to the perimeter, blocking well in space and at the second level. Ellison is strong at the point of attack and plays with considerable toughness. He plays on special teams coverage as well and shows up any time he's on the field, playing every play as if it's his last -- a true hustle player. Ellison has good bloodlines as his father was an all-conference linebacker at USC and then later in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Raiders.
Weaknesses: Ellison has only average size and power for the position and won't overwhelm with his strength at the next level. He doesn't break many tackles or do enough after contact. Ellison will have his share of drops with inconsistent focus and too often tried running with the ball before the catch. He needs to play more disciplined and control in the moment. Ellison wasn't used to a large degree most of his career and was just a small part of an explosive offense. Despite not missing any games the last two seasons, he has some durability concerns after suffering two separate leg injuries in 2011.
NFL Comparison: Joel Dreessen, Houston Texans
-- Dane Brugler