There is no question that the Dallas Cowboys are in dire need of defensive line help with all of the injuries that happened to their front four. On top of the injuries they provided no help to a secondary that was torched to the tune of the worst seasonal performance in franchise history. The question remains as to where do the Cowboys turn to for help?
Many folks much like myself, who are NFL Draft enthusiast believe that the true path to the top of the NFL is built through the NFL Draft. It is near impossible for a team to become a perennial power stocking their team through free agency. With all the salary cap issues this team is going through, you can see that now they have no choice but to become a better team this way.
I wanted to start my scouting for the upcoming draft with the defensive line. I started with the school that produced my favorite prospect from a year ago, the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Sheldon Richardson. Many draft analysts that I speak with on almost a daily basis were very high on Michael Sam, so I wanted to start with him. However, while watching film the weak-side defensive end Kony Ealy kept flashing so I decided to start with him instead.
Kony Ealy – 6’5”, 275 lbs.Stats courtesy of Sports-Reference.com
Cowboy fans should become very familiar with Kony Ealy, as he has been projected by many including CBS Sports’ Dane Bruglar to land in Dallas with the 16th or 17th pick in the first round. Ealy is the prototypical size for a 4-3 defensive end and he constantly makes plays on that side of the ball. Should the Cowboys keep DeMarcus Ware beyond next season Ealy could easily slide over to strong-side defensive end where he spent his sophomore season.
Pass Rushing: Kony Ealy is an extremely gifted freak at the defensive end position. Most offensive tackles have a hard time with trying to contain him. He mixes up his pass rush moves well. At times Ealy will use a speed rush to get around the tackle, or hand fight with him to gain inside leverage. This past season against the Florida Gators, Ealy beats the tackle inside with a swim move and the quarterback narrowly escapes him by getting rid of the ball. Ealy also uses stunts very well with getting in the backfield.
Strength: Ealy has shown that he can easily overpower the opposing tackle at times. During the game against Indiana, Ealy shows his strength by getting his hands inside and driving the tackle straight into the quarterback forcing him into a bad decision. He also flashes the ability to use his strength to shed blockers and other times he is unable to get rid of the blocker.
Athlete: His athletic ability is also something that will make your jaw drop. During the game against the Hoosiers, Ealy was unable to get to the quarterback but when he jumped to swat the ball he actually picked it out of the air. Once he had the ball Ealy knew exactly what to do with it 49 yards later celebrating a pick six. Also if you are looking for a guy who can play multiple spots on the defensive line, Ealy is your guy. He did at times play at the three technique with production to allow Michael Sam to be the edge rusher on known passing downs.
Inconsistent: As with any young player they need to be molded. Ealy has shown that his motor can come into question. Often times you will catch him giving up on a play when the running back is heading around the strong side but others he will chase down the back on the opposite sideline. This can be fixed with proper coaching, but there are moments where it was the blocking strategy that prevented him from making a play.
Technique: Along the same lines of being inconsistent Ealy does show poor technique at times. Doesn’t fire off the line with the quickness you would expect of a dominant pass rusher. Ealy also stands too upright when coming out of his stance. Much like a running back who runs upright can cause issues with performing at a high level.
Stopping the run: Ealy will need to work on setting the edge better if he expects to be a full-time starter at defensive end. Too often times he gets caught up in the middle of the defensive line due to not playing with gap discipline. This isn’t always the case but again these are all coachable weaknesses.
Kony Ealy should expect to be a top 15 selection in the upcoming draft. Ealy is the best 4-3 defensive end not named Jadeveon Clowney. He is versatile as far as which end he can play. This plays well into the Cowboys hand as they need to possibly fill both spots dependent upon what happens with Ware.
Grade – 89.5/100
This grade is only 1.5 points lower than I have Sheldon Richardson a season ago.