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Feb 24, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Missouri Tigers defensive lineman Kony Ealy runs the shuttle during the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

2014 NFL Draft Player Profile: Missouri DE Kony Ealy

Overview: Voted first-team All SEC in 2013, Kony Ealy is a big athlete with a lot of upside.  His production speaks for itself as he recorded 43 tackles, 14.5 for loss, 9.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles and an interception that he returned 49 yards for a touchdown last year.  After what I would say was a poor combine performance, I was eager to hit the tape on Ealy and see if I thought he was better than the numbers he posted in Indianapolis.

Strengths:

  • Prototypical length for the position.  Looks a bit thin at first glance, but carries his weight well and definitely has the frame to add more.
  • Explosive athlete.  Gets up the field in a hurry and has the speed to chase down the quarterback.
  • Changes direction well.  I don’t usually project 270 pounders to play outside linebacker, but this guy could do it.  Has a spin move that will make you drool.
  • Good in pursuit.  Fast enough to chase down ball carriers and willing to fight his way through traffic.

Weaknesses:

  • Does not set the edge well.  Takes on blocks with the wrong shoulder too often and gets moved off the point of attack a little too easily.
  • Plays too high.  Runs around upright way too much and consequently his playing speed does not translate into hitting power as much as it should.
  • Needs to improve functional strength.  Gets pushed around at the line of scrimmage and can be manhandled by bigger offensive linemen.
  • Absolutely worthless against double-teams.  Disappears way too fast and gets moved wherever the offensive linemen want him to go.

NFL Player Comparison: Aldon Smith, San Francisco 49ers.  Comparing Ealy to another former Missouri Tiger was just too good to pass up.  Besides, there are a lot of similarities between these guys.  Both have excellent length for the position with really long arms (Ealy’s are 34 1/4 inches), and both have the hip flexibility to play outside linebacker in the 3-4.  Ealy even reminds me of Smith in how raw he is coming out of college, but that didn’t stop Smith from recording 14 sacks as a rookie and compiling 42 in his first three seasons in the NFL.

The Way I See It: Where Kony Ealy gets drafted will have a huge impact on his playing career.  If he goes somewhere stable that has a good coaching staff in place, he could have Aldon Smith-like production early in his career.  If he doesn’t get the coaching he needs, I think he will bust fairly quickly.  That having been said, I wouldn’t mind the Bears making this pick at all.  He has all the upside required to become the dynamic pass rusher the Chicago so desperately needs on the defensive line.

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Tags: 2014 Nfl Draft Chicago Bears Kony Ealy

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