Mizzou DE Kony Ealy to Dallas Cowboys Makes Sense

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Nov 2, 2013; Columbia, SC, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (7) stands on the sidelines during a timeout against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Williams-Brice Stadium. The Gamecocks defeated the Bulldogs 34-16. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Ealy looks to be one of the top two or three options for Dallas on the defensive side of the ball, and I can’t see the franchise going in the offensive direction for the second straight year in the first round—but remember that anything is possible.If we compare the statistics posted by both Ealy and Clowney in 2013, the numbers point towards the former being a more attractive prospect, although the circumstances surrounding the two prospects are quite different.

Clowney attracted more dramatic attention from opposing offensive lines last season than any other defender in the country, thanks in part to a simple highlight which went viral on the internet a year ago. Clowney’s helmet-removing hit on Michigan running back Vincent Smith in the 2013 Outback Bowl propelled him to instant fame and likely would have made him the first overall selection in the ’13 draft had he been eligible.

Things were a bit different for Ealy as he entered his junior season with the Tigers.

Instead of YouTube making him a household name before he was even old enough to play pro football, Ealy had to build on a solid sophomore campaign that saw him well within the large shadow cast by ’13 first-round selection Sheldon Richardson, the first defensive tackle off the board last April.

Ealy chalked up 3.5 sacks in ’12 and added 10.0 tackles for a loss. He would finish with 37 tackles overall.

Last season was a bit different as Ealy answered any and all questions regarding his ability to succeed at a university that also produced San Francisco 49ers pass-rushing linebacker Aldon Smith, the seventh overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft.

Ealy finished his junior year on a high note as he picked up two sacks in the Cotton Bowl against Oklahoma State on January 3 in Arlington, Texas. He would total 9.5 sacks in ’13 and also chalked up 14.5 tackles for a loss, each significant improvements over his ’12 numbers. Ealy also forced three fumbles and intercepted a pass.

Yes, the arrow is pointing straight up for Ealy, a prospect who looks absolutely perfect for Dallas defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin’s 4-3 alignment.

Ealy stands 6’5” and weighs 275 pounds, a frame that allows him to possibly see some work on the inside in the NFL. It’s safe to say that there’s some versatility to Ealy’s game and this is always a huge plus when you’re talking about pass-rush specialists.

If there’s a potential drawback for the Cowboys selecting Ealy, it might be the fact that he’s gained most of his experience at right defensive end, the exact same location that DeMarcus Ware plays at. A good question is whether or not Dallas might consider moving Ware to the left side for his second season playing on the defensive line. This would allow the nine-year veteran more favorable matchups against opposing right tackles.

It’s certainly possible that the Cowboys might go in the direction of defensive tackle with their first round pick. Prospects like Minnesota’s Ra’Shede Hageman or Florida State’s Timmy Jernigan would be completely understandable. Dallas veteran tackles like Jay Ratliff and Jason Hatcher are either gone or will be soon and Kiffin will need more to work with than just Nick Hayden, Corvey Irvin, Frank Kearse and possibly Ben Bass—that’s it for defensive tackles on the roster at this time.

Otherwise, the pass rush is a primary concern for the Cowboys as they weren’t exactly special in this area last season. Ware missed the first games of his career due to injury and who knows whether or not Anthony Spencer, much more of an outside linebacker at his size—same for Kyle Wilber—will have much career left anywhere. Not to ignore George Selvie, but I have to see another effort like last season’s before I start thinking that he’s the primary pass rushing defensive end upfront.

Ealy played his final college football game at the venue formerly known as Cowboys Stadium. It might be good, at least for Cowboys fans, to see him play his next game in the very same place, unless Jones decides to keep building his army of tight ends—again, anything is possible.

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Tags: Dallas Cowboys Jadeveon Clowney Kony Ealy

  • Jimmy DeMarco

    I do think Ealy would be the perfect fit for us in our defense, regardless if Ware is with the team or not.
    The one thing I believe is that Dallas will have their choice of Ealy, Tuitt, Hageman, Jernigan, Dix or Nix. Some have even suggested that Murphy and Beasley may fall in our direction.

    My only skepticism is that Jerry may decide to draft best player available. So if someone like Lee, Dennard or Benjamin is sitting there, he may go that route.

    And as I’ve seen quite a few articles written about the Cowboys draft, the concensus of most of the comments have been that Dallas should draft best player available, not based on need.

    My only argument against drafting based on need for this team is simply this…
    If we’re to think or even want Jerry to do the right thing and let players like Hatcher, Spencer and a lot have even suggested Ware,awe jwd the wordworst defense in football last year. How bad do you think it willnbe this year?
    How much improvement will there will be, even if Bass and Crawford come back, who are complete question marks?
    Of course drafting any player is always a question mark. But if we’re to assume Dallas isn’t going to make any significant upgrades in FA (Hardy, Melton or Bennet), how does anyone expect this team to be better at all?

    There’s no question that drafting the best player available when it’s our turn is enticing and is the “norm”. But let’s be realistic for a moment, our offensive ineptitude at times had nothing to do with personnel, it was play calling and clock management issues.

    Having this juggernaut offensive vision is great. And the name of the game is, whoever scores more wins.
    But take a look at the NFC, look at the teams that were in the playoffs.
    Top 4 defensive teams in the league and who’s playing in the NFC Championship game this weekend?

    I’m sorry, but the idea of passing on a defensive pass rusher and run stopper in the first round is ludicrous just to take the best player available. What if the best player available is Ebron, do you really draft another TE, seriously?

    And the same people who I always see commenting on these articles about drafting best player available are the same people who keep saying that Marinelli is a genius when it comes to getting the most out of his defensive lineman.
    And don’t say it’s different because you’re comparing prospects to an NFL player, that’s BS. 20 different DL this past season is a joke.
    And if Ealy, Tuitt, Hageman or Jernigan is sitting there at whatever # we pick, and Lee is there, drafting Lee over any of those defensive players is insane. And again, by most of my fellow Cowboy fans comments, Marinelli would make them that much better.

    • Christian Blood

      Two years ago at this time the crying was over Terrence Newman failing to tackle fullbacks against New York in that win-and-you’re-in fiasco. Jerry dumped a whole offseason into new cornerbacks and the resuklts are still the same … BTW, Newman has been going to the playoffs with Cincy since leaving the Cowboys.

      No, secondary players like corners, safeties and more wide receivers will mean next to nothing for Dallas in 2014 … just look at the schedule.

      I said this last year and I’ll say it again: Until the Cowboys’ trenches become something to fear in the NFC East, forget the playoffs, let alone anything more.

      Dallas brought in a completely new scheme for the defense last year and did absolutely nothing about it, period. They didn’t acquire a single new defensive lineman over the ENTIRE offseason, obviously thinking that the aging scrap of 3-4 history would all just change positions successfully.

      This was the worst mistake or calculation of the Jones era, and that’s saying quite a bit.

      This draft has to be about the defensive line and maybe even the offensive line as well … forget this idea that the o-line was vastly improved. With the Garrett-Callahan pass-a-thon that will continue until everybody ends up fired, the offensive line needs more Pro Bowl players than just Tyron Smith.

      • Jimmy DeMarco

        I agree with everything you said.
        If Ealy is sitting there when we pick, we have to draft him.

        I keep hearing people say that this draft isn’t deep in terms of defensive line, BS. There are so many players that can play different positions and are very versatile.

        This draft should be all about defense, and like you said, the OL as well.
        With guys who will be available in the 2-5 rounds of the draft, it would be extremely disappointing if we don’t add impact players and depth.

        Hageman – Ealy – Jernigan – Nix – Sutton – Donald – Ferguson – D Jones – Quarles – Easley –
        A Johnson – Mccullers – Barnett –
        D Coleman.
        Tuitt – Murphy – Crichton – Reilly – C Smith – Jeffcoat – M Smith – D Lawrence –
        K Martin – Gayle – Stinson.
        Shazier – Beasley – Van Noy – Attaochu- Kennard – Sam – McKinney.

        Obviously I left off the 4 we have absolutely no shot at getting.
        And I completely understand that not all of these guys are going to be top tier players/starters. Quite a few will be role players and 3rd down guys. But if other people who are against Dallas going the defensive route in this draft, they’re nuts.

        There is going to be guys who would projected to go in the top 3 rounds that will be available in the middle rounds.

        They need to build a defense and it starts now.
        And if on draft day I get the notifications that we ended up with Ealy in the 1st and Donald in the 2nd, I’d be ecstatic. Even Jernigan and Sutton. Or Hageman and Crichton or Murphy.

        I know this is a draft player article.
        What’s your thoughts about Spencer, Hatcher, Ware, Sims and Austin?

  • Old Frog

    It’s going to get boring but I’m going to keep asking for Cyril Richardson in the second or late in the first if JJ trades down. Every other pick can go defense any way you want it.

    • Juanito Juanito

      boring and stupid, spend and lose a first round pick in offense when your defense is the worst in the league and when your offensive line close the season well, to me not sound boring, sound stupid, who are you jerry jones assistent