We’re less than two weeks away from the 2014 NFL Draft. As much preparation as scouts have done, they might not even know who they’re taking until their team is on the clock. This time of year is both exciting and unpredictable to say the least.
So far in this series we’ve looked at five players that fit a specific need for the Ravens. Marqise Lee, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Zack Martin, Brandin Cooks and Aaron Donald can all potentially start for the Ravens in Week 1, partially due to the departure of the player who started at that position last year.
As far as Kony Ealy goes, if the Ravens draft him it won’t be because his position is a weak one on their roster. In fact, a strong argument can be made that linebacker is the strongest position on the Ravens right now.
Whether Ealy stays at defensive end or stands up and plays outside linebacker at the next level remains to be seen. But if he’s available at No. 17 and is the highest remaining player on the Ravens’ board, expect Ozzie to call Ealy and ask if he’s ready to be a Raven.
Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
- Height: 6’4″
- Weight: 273 pounds
- Bench reps of 225 pounds: 22
- 40-yard dash: 4.92 seconds
- 3 cone drill: 6.83 seconds (best among defensive lineman)
- Last season: 42 tackles, 8.0 sacks, 6 passes defensed, 3 forced fumbles, 1 interception (49-yard touchdown)
Pros: Above average when it comes to batting down and defending passes at the line. Understands passing lanes. Can get to the quarterback from multiple angles. When firing off the ball and getting lower than his opponent, he flashes very good bend and backside pursuit. Plays well in traffic and doesn’t wait for someone else to make the tackle. He possesses good size and length.
Cons: Too often Ealy will jog behind the play if it develops away from him. He takes angles on his pass rush that sometimes aren’t even close. Plays with a high pad level, which is a fundamental mistake for linemen. Sometimes he will start to drive an offensive tackle upfield, but he won’t end up impacting the play.
Why the Ravens would select him: Ealy wouldn’t be drafted to start for the Ravens, at least not in 2014 (barring injury). He is a good player that put up good numbers in the SEC and is getting better. A lot of his mistakes can be corrected by coaching, and the Ravens’ defensive line coach, Clarence Brooks, is one of the very best.
Projected position with the Ravens: “Rush” (outside) linebacker. What better player on the team for Ealy to learn from than the Ravens’ current starting rush linebacker: Terrell Suggs.