Mizzou DE Kony Ealy to Dallas Cowboys Makes Sense

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Oct 19, 2013; Columbia, MO, USA; Florida Gators quarterback Tyler Murphy (3) is hit by Missouri Tigers defensive lineman Kony Ealy (47) while throwing during the second half at Faurot Field. Missouri won 36-17. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The 2014 NFL Draft remains months away, but mock drafts for the annual player selection meeting in New York are in full swing. This comes well before the kickoff of what looks to be a completely frozen Super Bowl XLVIII to be played in New York on February 2.

Depending on how you see the Dallas Cowboys, the top priorities for America’s Team may differ somewhat. There’s no denying, however, that the defensive line must be addressed early and probably often come May.

A name that’s already being mocked to Dallas in the first round of the coming draft is Missouri defensive end Kony Ealy—there’s very good reason for this.

Ealy might be seen as the consolation prize for any team drafting in the opening round that wants a pass-rush specialist but doesn’t select high enough for South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who could be the first overall selection.

I have my doubts that, as the predraft season progresses, Ealy will fall to the Cowboys at either the 16th or 17th selection. Historically speaking, quarterbacks, offensive tackles and pass-rushers tend to disappear quickly within the first 10-12 selections and the Cowboys fall well beyond that range at this point in time.

Owner and general manager Jerry Jones has a history of trading up to grab players early in the draft. Recent first-round picks like wide receiver Dez Bryant (2010) and cornerback Morris Claiborne (2012) fit this hit-and-miss strategy. We can say the same for NFL all-time leading rusher Emmitt Smith (1990).

I won’t pretend to guess what Jones will do in this year’s draft simply because anything is possible with this particular executive. Nonetheless, it would appear as though Dallas won’t be moving up too much for anybody this time around.

Dallas needs as many good football players as they can get their hands on—remember that free agency isn’t likely to solve too much for the Cowboys given their current, or annual, salary cap situation.

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