With the Arizona Cardinals looking to improve their pass rush, Missouri DE Kony Ealy could be a first round target for the team.
There are a number of reasons why.
One is that there is a recent track record of Missouri defensive players being quite productive -- Sheldon Richardson, Ziggy Hood and Aldon Smith.
He gets some love from scouts, too.
According to Mocking the Draft's Matthew Fairburn, Ealy compares to Justin Tuck, but he also is versatile enough to play defensive end or outside linebacker. His physical talent is unmistakable.
Our own Seth Cox mocked Ealy to the Cardinals at number 20 for Arizona Sports.
There's a bit of a split on what Ealy projects to be at the next level, but the Cardinals' free agent interest in Green Bay's Mike Neal says that they are OK with that unknown about the player.
There is no denying that Ealy has the short-area quickness to be an edge rusher, whether from a stand-up position or with his hand in the dirt, and his versatility and strength at the point of attack means that he can be an asset to the Cardinals from multiple spots.
If he can't succeed on the edge, he can put on a little weight and become an effective 3-4 defensive end. But any way you slice it, he has the upside, length, quickness and aggressiveness that the Cardinals are looking for.
Cox, by the way, is very high on Ealy.
However, not everyone is convinced. Former NFL player Stephen White, writing for SB Nation, doesn't see someone special.
He sees a player with good moves and talent, but nothing great. He writes that you should expect a first round pick to be a Pro Bowler. He doesn't believe that Ealy has that potential.
He could be in play for the Cardinals at number 20. A pass rusher is very valuable. Is it more valuable than a safety or a cornerback? Probably. Steve Keim wants the front seven to produce pressure. A pass rusher is how you do it.
As noted by Cox, Ealy has value in two ways for Arizona. If he doesn't turn out to be the fantastic edge rusher, he could add weight and be Darnell Dockett's replacement.
With what you see in the Matt Ufford video about Ealy and the three opinions about him in the article, how would you like him for Arizona in the first round? It would have to be there because he won't likely be available in Round 2.
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