Ealy is projected as a 4-3 defensive end, and teams may be skeptical of his ability to fight through double teams at 274 pounds in a 3-4. He could possibly transition to a defensive end in the 3-4, which the Steelers play, but he’ll need to add bulk to his 6-foot-4 frame.
Playing for Gary Pinkel‘s Tigers at Mizzou, Ealy thrived not only as a player, but as a leader. Pittsburgh has a soft spot for high-character players who exhibit great leadership qualities. It’s part of who they are, and a player who embodies those attributes is a player they’ll welcome any day.
Certain things would have to happen for Ealy to become a Steeler, however. Ealy is projected to go near the end of the first round, and the Steelers will not be using their first-round pick on a developmental player as I detailed earlier in my article on Aaron Donald.
The first step is for the Steelers to select a player who doesn’t play on the defensive line with their first pick. Even if Ealy is there at No. 47, if the Steelers have already taken a defensive lineman, they won’t be able to take him because of their needs at other positions.
The second thing that needs to happen is, quite obviously, he needs to fall all the way to No. 47. This isn’t inconceivable, though; just last year there was talk of Geno Smith going first overall and he fell to the second round.
The Steelers can’t predict if he’ll fall to their second pick, so they won’t worry about selecting the “wrong” position with their first one. Having both of these things happen isn’t terribly likely, but never say never.
Given both of these things do happen, it would be a great addition for the Steelers at a position that they’re hurting at right now.