Philadelphia Eagles: Get to know linebacker Christian Elliss

Welp, that didn’t take long.

After the tiniest bit of speculation, the Philadelphia Eagles have officially claimed once and future cornerback Mac McCain off of waivers after a two-week siesta in Denver as a member of the Broncos.

While the move itself didn’t feel super prudent or necessary, as the Birds already have a dozen defensive backs on their active roster, plus Craig James on the practice squad, once Davion Taylor hit IR after suffering a knee injury that required surgery, the opportunity to bring back McCain felt like a borderline no-brainer, especially since the Eagles already have five other linebackers on their active roster.

But with Taylor out for at least the next three weeks plus the bye, the Eagles needed to bring someone in to fortify their depth should the unit suffer another injury to Alex Singleton, Genard Avery, Patrick Johnson, Shaun Bradley, and/or the recently extended $3 million man, T.J. Edwards. Enter Christian Elliss, a UDFA linebacker out of Idaho who is entering his third tenure on the Philadelphia Eagles’ practice squad this season. But who is Christian Elliss? Let’s find out.

The Philadelphia Eagles clearly like something about Christian Elliss’ game.

Coming out of Valor Christian High School in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, Christian Elliss was a two-star recruit.

He received one offer, from Idaho, to play alongside his further New Orleans Saints-drafted brother Kaden in the Vandals’ defensive front and went on to appear in 39 games with the program, 12 as a freshman, 11 as both a sophomore and a junior, and five games as a senior in a weird, hybrid season the SunBelt conference opted to run in 2020/21.

Over that tenure, Elliss amassed 266 total tackles – including 50 in five games as a senior, 4.5 sacks – and two interceptions for the Vandals, to go with eight passes defensed, a forced fumble, and a blocked kick.

Factor in a strong showing at Vandals’ Pro Day headlined by a 4.48 40 yard dash, 4.29 40 yard shuttle, and an even 10-foot broad jump, and it looked like Elliss may join his brother as the second son of Ex-Pro Bowl defensive lineman-turned-Idaho defensive line coach Luther Elliss to hear his name called on draft night.

Unfortunately, it just wasn’t meant to be.

After going undrafted, Elliss signed with the Minnesota Vikings in the spring of 2021 before ultimately being waived at the end of August. From there, he signed with the Philadelphia Eagles practice squad, was released, signed with the Philadelphia Eagles practice squad, again, was released, again, and then signed with the San Francisco 49ers, where he spent a week with the team from November 3rd to 10th before, you guessed it, being waived.

Needless to say, once Taylor went down, bringing back Elliss for a third stint made a ton of sense.

While we may never actually see Elliss on the field for the Eagles this season, as conventional wisdom would suggest he’ll likely be waived and then signed again before the season’s 17 weeks come to an end, what could fans expect from the former Vandel should he actually see the field?

Three words: Special Teams Ace.

Measuring in at 6-foot-3, 233 pounds, Elliss is a speedy operator in space with good instinct and a natural affinity for tackling but in the modern-day NFL, he doesn’t really have a natural position, not unless he either bulks up noticeably or develops into a legitimate coverage player capable of contributing on the weakside.

To his credit, Kaden has developed into a part-time defensive contributor for the Saints in this his third professional season, but he still logs almost every one of New Orleans special teams snaps in any given game, whereas he’s yet to play more than 47 percent of the team’s defensive snaps, even in his lone start of the season.

Maybe in two years, we’ll be looking at Christian Elliss the same way, assuming he sticks around that long.

So there you have it, a brief look into Christian Elliss, the 2021 answer to Julian Vandervelde, who was signed and released by the Philadelphia Eagles 20-plus time during the Chip Kelly era. Maybe he’ll actually take the field, maybe he’ll bounce around the league a little more, but for now, he’s a member of the Eagles and that, my friends, is pretty cool.