Dallas Draft Day Dilemma – Ealy v. Ford

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Jan 3, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Missouri Tigers defensive lineman Kony Ealy (47) during the game against the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the 2014 Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium. Missouri won 41-31. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

As the frenzy of free agency winds down, the offseason focus shifts now towards the draft.  Forty-three days from now the Dallas Cowboys will add a few more young, talented players to the roster.  Just who those players will be is still anyone’s guess.  The prevailing desire amongst those within Cowboys Nation seems to be for Pittsburgh’s Aaron Donald.  Unfortunately, Donald had way too good of a combine and there are too many teams drafting ahead of the Cowboys that have a need for a defensive tackle.  The Giants at twelve, Bears at fourteen and Steelers at fifteen could all use upgrades at that position.

I am putting Donald in the same category as Jadeveon Clowney and Khalil Mack.  Clear number one options at their position who will not be there when Dallas drafts at sixteen.  It would be beyond amazing to land one of those three, but it’s also likely beyond realistic.  Instead, I am going to focus on legitimate options when it comes to players and positions.

As I outlined in my previous post Sunday, I believe the Cowboys could go into 2014 and be okay at the defensive tackle position.  I certainly would not pass on Donald if he was there.  I also don’t think you can just rule out the position entirely, but the need on this team is definitely at the end position.  With Clowney off the board in the first two or three picks, that leaves two other possible first round options for Dallas.  In the first installment of a running draft series, we will take a look at two players, head-to-head, and determine which way the Cowboys should go.  This week, we examine the defensive end position, pitting Kony Ealy against Dee Ford.

Kony Ealy has an excellent mixture of size (6’4″, 275 lbs.) and athleticism.  Of all the defensive ends to participate in the three cone drill at the combine, Ealy had the fastest time, completing the drill in under seven seconds.  For those unfamiliar with this drill, the player runs five yards to the first cone and turns back, then runs around the second cone before weaving around the third cone at the top of the “L,” coming back to finish at the second cone.  This drill exhibits a player’s ability to quickly change direction and keep momentum getting around the corner.  To put up a good time in the three-cone drill, a player must be able to bend around a corner, an important quality for pass rushers.  While his forty yard dash time was not as good as you might expect (he ran a 4.92), his first 10-yard split was finished in 1.66 seconds.  This is another harbinger of explosiveness.

As far as game tape is concerned, Ealy can really jump out at you.  He has a full arsenal of moves, be it the quick spin move back to the inside or an over-arm swim and power slap move.  He shows excellent flexibility when turning the corner and closes quickly on his target.  He also has amazing instincts and knows that when he can’t get home to the quarterback, he can rely upon his recognition to disrupt the pass by getting his huge arms up in the passing lane.  Ealy also has the production to back up his skill set as he was responsible for 14 tackles for loss, eight sacks, three forced fumbles and an interception return for touchdown.