The New England Patriots are cutting their losses. They flipped picks with the Carolina Panthers this spring in order to secure the services of DE Kony Ealy, but ultimately have decided that the veteran isn’t a fit for their defense. He’s going to be cut before the start of the season. Ealy was the 60th selection in the 2014 NFL Draft, coming with fanfare thanks to the disruptive style of play he was able to showcase at Missouri.
Let’s take a look back at Ealy’s Draft report from the 2014 NFL Draft Prospectus and see how his career trajectory aligns thus far:
Ealy’s career has been stuck in neutral, and the decision by the Patriots to cut him is a difficult blow to absorb. I personally did feel as though Ealy was a bit over-drafted in 2014; as my scoring scale has since shifted since the 2014 publication.
In today’s scoring weight and scale, Ealy would have scored as a low 4th round value instead of the late 3rd he was credited with in 2014.
Ealy was set to start on a defense that had just lost Rob Ninkovich to retirement, rookie Derek Rivers to a knee injury and veteran Chris Long to free agency. The decision is an indictment on a lack of development from Ealy, who showcased attractive traits on film and played with a great sense of urgency. But his issues with hand work and pass rush arsenal have hindered his play through several seasons.
Ealy flashed big time during the Super Bowl when the Panthers made a deep run, but otherwise has just 14.0 sacks in 47 career games (15 starts). This now marks two consecutive teams who needed edge rush help (Carolina in 2016 and the Patriots this year) who have opted they’d be better off without Ealy.
From here, Kony will need to try to find his footing with a team that will let him get back to what he did as a college player. The chances he’ll be given a look as a starter are now marginal, but as a rush specialist Ealy could still potentially present some upside to NFL teams in the market for pass rush.