In much the same way Buffalo's front office completed a flurry of draft pick signings last year the day before camp opened, the Bills got two more of their rookies under contract early Thursday as third-round pick Chris Ellis and sixth-round pick Xavier Omon signed with the club.
Negotiations with Ellis had been close to completion for the better part of two weeks before the two sides ironed out the final few details the day before the first training camp practice at St. John Fisher.
"It was hard to go to sleep last night," Ellis told Buffalobills.com while en route to the Pittsford, New York campus. "But I took care of the paperwork this morning. I didn't really want to hold out and I knew it was coming down to the wire and you get pulled by your agent and pulled by your team and I'm glad we could just find a common ground and take care of business and just play football."
Ellis was primarily a left defensive end at Virginia Tech, and improved each year in his three seasons as a starter for the Hokies. Though he compiled 22 sacks and an impressive 82 quarterback pressures in his college career, which included 1st team All-ACC honors as a senior, Ellis is considered more than an edge pass rusher.
"We like the guy, he plays hard," said Bills defensive line coach Bill Kollar. "He does a good job in the run and the pass."
With Ellis' best 40-times clocked in the mid-4.5s the rookie has a good chance to be utilized as a situational pass rusher behind veteran ends Aaron Schobel, Chris Kelsay and Ryan Denney.
Last year Buffalo looked deep at defensive end before injuries and other circumstances forced the Bills to go into scramble mode right before the season. But now with Ellis on board, Buffalo again looks well fortified at that position.
"We went into the year last season feeling that defensive end was one of our strongest positions because we felt we had four good ends," said Bill Kollar. "But Ryan Denney broke his foot and (Anthony) Hargrove got suspended so hopefully we can keep everybody healthy and keep guys fresh and play a lot of guys."
Ellis is hoping to get on the field defensively and realizes in a heavy rotational system it could happen for him as a rookie.
"I'm just going to try to help the team out," said Ellis. "Until they identify a role for me whether it's special teams, cheering on the bench or rushing the passer, I'm just looking forward to helping the team. But hopefully I can come in and be an early addition and help build on what they already have."
Buffalo also signed sixth-round pick Xavier Omon.
Omon was ridiculously productive at Division II Northwest Missouri State as he became only the second player in college football history to rush for over 1,500 yards in all four of his collegiate seasons.
His 98 career touchdowns were also good for third in Division II NCAA annals and his 7,777 all-purpose yards ranked ninth in NCAA history.
Most sixth-round draft choices in the league have been signed for the better part of a week, but there was a delay in Omon's negotiating process.
"I knew I was going to get it done," said Omon. "There was no way I wasn't going to be here on time being a sixth-round pick. That's also not my style. I had fired my first agent so we had to start over on all the contract negotiations. But it's all good now."
Omon is also en route to the St. John Fisher campus. Both draft choices are expected to arrive in Pittsford this afternoon.