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Should the Arizona Cardinals Select Kony Ealy If He is Available in the NFL Draft?

April 5th, 2014 at 6:20 AM
By Steve Smith

'Pigskin' photo (c) 2009, Eric Kilby - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/
The Arizona Cardinals could use more help rushing the quarterback. All teams could.

The Red Birds will select  20th overall in the first round of the upcoming NFL Draft in May.

Let's take a look at the profile of one of the players that may be available to them at that pick: DE Kony Ealy of the University of Missouri.

Ealy is 6-foot-4 and weighs 273 pounds. Let's take a look at his scouting profile via nfl.com:

STRENGTHS: Ealy's athleticism jumps off the tape. Operating mostly at RDE for the Tigers, Ealy shows good initial quickness off the snap to force right tackles into respecting his speed rush, but saw time all over the defensive line and even as a stand-up linebacker. He has a quick spin move back to the inside to complement his speed and has developing pass-rush technique, including an over-arm swim and a power slap. Perhaps best of all, Ealy possesses the flexibility to turn the corner efficiently and closes quickly, demonstrating the ability to rip the ball free from the quarterback with a powerful chop or with an explosive collision. Impressive straight-line acceleration for a man of his size. Good recognition to get his hands into passing lanes when he can't get to the quarterback. Times his leap well and long arms and good hand-eye coordination. Undeniable upside.

WEAKNESSES: Ealy is prone to coming off the snap too high, making himself vulnerable to cut blocks and is a more effective pass rusher than run defender, at this time. While possessing the burst and balance to attack off the edge out of the two-point stance, Ealy looks uncomfortable dropping back into coverage and offers minimal experience in this area. Has been surrounded by a lot of talent at Missouri and may struggle early in the NFL if expected to be the star..

COMPARES TO: Robert Quinn, St. Louis Rams – Considering that Quinn finished second in the NFL with 19 sacks in 2013, he's a tough comparison for any rookie but there is no denying Ealy's upside. He boasts the length, burst and developing technique that every scout is looking for off the edge. If he continues to develop his game, Pro Bowls are in his future.

Player Overview: While teammate Michael Sam earned the attention as the SEC's Co-Defensive Player of the Year in 2013, Ealy possesses the higher upside and will earn the significantly greater interest on draft day due to his exciting combination of size, athleticism and scheme versatility. Ealy signed with Missouri after earning offers from Nebraska, Arkansas and Mississippi, among others. He served as a member of the Scout Team as a freshman and logged 13 tackles in 12 games in 2011, including the first start of his career (Baylor), before breaking out as a big play specialist in 2012, recording 10 tackles for loss among his 37 stops. He followed this up with 43 stops, including 14.5 for loss and 9.5 sacks and three forced fumbles in 2013 to earn All-SEC honors. He capped off his career with six tackles, including two sacks against Oklahoma State in a Cotton Bowl win. Ealy's length and burst off the edge are his most exciting traits but don't overlook his instincts against the pass. In two seasons as a starter, Ealy defended 13 passes, showing the instincts and athleticism to wreak havoc against quarterbacks in more ways than one. Proponents of the 4-3 and 3-4 schemes alike will appreciate that ability to generate turnovers.

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Tags: Arizona, Arizona Cardinals, Football, Kony Ealy, NFL

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