But Ellis, who won 27 England caps and toured South Africa with the Lions, reckons Dickson can still be a central figure on the Test scene.
"He did earn his place in the England team at the backend of the Six Nations and he was playing very well," said Ellis.
"Lee is very nuggetty, very tough and does the basics very well, while Ben (Youngs) and Danny (Care) offer perhaps that little bit more, that maverick style."
Scrum-half is one of the positions where England boast a wealth of riches. It is a far-cry from when Ellis burst onto the scene but he insists it is only good for the Red Rose.
"When I broke into the England team Kyran Bracken had just retired, you had Matt Dawson and Andy Gomarsall and apart from that the cupboard was pretty bare," said Ellis.
"But then Peter Richards and Shaun Perry came through and suddenly you had a boom in young players.
"Now it's very exciting as they are all great players in their own right. There are five or six who could all play for England and it makes the Premiership very exciting viewing. You know whoever plays nine for England is going to be a very exciting player."