Former Dallas Cowboys defensive end Greg Ellis believes 2017 first-round defense end Taco Charlton needs to lean on his coaches and stay persistent.
Ellis, who has been busy producing a play entitled "Watch Night" about the first day of freedom for African American slaves, has not been too busy to know Charlton struggled through his first seven games before finally collecting his first career sack this past Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs.
"The thing he has to do is use your resources, even if that's calling me," Ellis said. "Use your resources. You have excellent coaches. He has excellent coaches, [defensive line coach] Leon Lett, who has played. So, use your resources and just keep, as we say, keep chopping wood. Don't give up. Try not to get frustrated. Just continue to work and work and work to get better."
Charlton did not register a sack, let alone a quarterback pressure, in his 169 defensive snaps before Sunday's game. Though he nearly made an athletic play to intercept a pass against Washington on Oct 29, before he brought down Alex Smith for his first career sack a week later he was more known as the guy the Cowboys selected instead of J.J. Watt's brother in this year's draft.
Ellis knows the pressure the 28th overall pick is getting. As the team's eighth overall selection in 1998, the former North Carolina Tar Heel produced just 2.5 sacks his first six games, but only a half-sack more in his final 10 games of his rookie year.
In addition to Lett, who played defensive tackle for Dallas from 1991-2000, Ellis relied upon three-time Super Bowl defensive end Chad Hennings and even retired Hall-of-Fame defensive end Charles Haley for guidance on how to be a better pass rusher.
Said Ellis: "Mainly, I'd listen to Charles talk to me about stuff. But anybody that I felt like had some experience that could help me, I'd sit there and listen to them, the good and the bad. Some of it was critical things they would say. Some of it was positive things, uplifting things. But I would just pay attention to it."
Charlton tallied 10 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss in his senior season at Michigan. The ability to play the position at a high level is on Charlton's resume, but the college game is different than the pros. According to Ellis, the key to a successful transition is trusting the tape.
"The main thing is him studying film to try to figure out how he can become a better football player in this league," said Ellis, "Because everybody has to realize and respect that this is not college football, and, so, it is a transition that has to take place. And the more time you spend at making that transition, the quicker it comes for you."
In terms of resources, Charlton would have Hall-of-Fame inductees and Ring of Honor members from Bob Lilly to Randy White to Haley and even DeMarcus Ware to ask for counsel. However, Ellis thinks the one man Charlton needs to talk to the most is already at The Star in Coach Lett.
"He has a tremendous football IQ... You have an excellent resource right there. You got to pick his brain, not just for the X's and O's, but the small things that can help you become a better defensive lineman. You have to sit there and spend extra time, and Leon will do it with him. I know it."
How have you felt about Taco Charlton so far this season? Do you still have high hopes for the first rounder? Share your thoughts with Mark on Twitter @therealmarklane.