Last week, I wrote my opinion on the Carolina Panthers first pick in this year’s draft, Kelvin Benjamin. This weekend, I watched film over their second round pick, defensive end Kony Ealy out of Missouri. I watched film from their games versus Vanderbilt, Florida, Georgia, and Oklahoma State.
Scouting Combine: 6-foot-4, 273 pounds, 34.25 inch arms, 4.92 40 yard dash, 22 bench reps, 6.83 3 cone drill
Pass Rushing: Rushed from a 3-4 OLB spot, from a prototypical 7 technique defensive end spot, and from the 3-technique defensive tackle spot in nickel defenses. Has a thick body, but he can move his hips well enough to turn in open space. He has great closing speed and once he’s around the tackle the quarterback isn’t going to escape unless it’s his fault. Ealy had some problems tackling, but would follow those mistakes up with huge hits. Uses his arms sporadically, when he plays end he is pretty consistent at using them to keep the tackle away, but when he switches to defensive tackle he tends to body push and gets overpowered. Has a bad habit of glaring into the backfield if he doesn’t immediately get leverage. It’s good to keep an eye on the quarterback, but when he does it he stops his momentum and takes himself out of the play.
His burst off the line is good, if not fantastic. Will try a lot of different pass rushing moves, but none of them are very good besides his dip. His dip move is fantastic, is very good at getting under the tackle and closing on the quarterback. Occasionally tries to use this move when the offensive tackle is in good position and goes way too vertical, allowing the quarterback to step up or scramble. Tries to use a spin move and usually fails miserably. Both outside and inside he occasionally tries to back his way against a defender, which never works.
Run Stopping: Is big bodied, doesn’t get great push, especially from the inside. Can be beat back if he isn’t careful. Usually does a good job of staying in position and not letting the running back get to either side of him. Plays the inside spot like he’s playing end, will try too hard to make a play in the back field and will let the running back run through his gap. However, his athleticism does make him exceptional at stunts from the tackle spot. An issue he runs into is that his great burst that aids him so much in the passing game can cause him to over pursue runners at times. One of the biggest things that worries me is he isn’t a hustle player. If the ball goes away from him, he will stop running. Also, even though he plays several positions on the defensive line, Missouri coaches took him off the field a surprising amount.
Overall, Ealy is a great physical specimen, who can plug in and play a lot of reps at a lot of spots for Carolina this year. With good coaching, he could turn into a reliable starter for a long time. However, through all the tape I watched, I couldn’t help but notice on almost every drive that Michael Sam was a better player. He just dominated more, got push more consistently, had a relentless motor and a bigger variety of moves. The fact that all 32 teams didn’t think Sam was any better than a seventh round pick may prove me wrong, but if that’s the case, it worries me that the team picked Ealy in the second.