The Carolina Panthers locked up one of their prized draft picks on Thursday when second-round pick, Kony Ealy, signed his rookie contract. The defensive end out of Mizzou has high expectations on his shoulders, but a holdout is not one of them. Ealy was rated by several scouting sites as a late first-round talent despite being drafted by Carolina at the end of the second round.
The pick represented huge value for GM Dave Gettleman and Ealy will be used heavily in the defensive line rotation. The 6-foot-4, 270-pound defensive end brings a lot of flexibility to the Panthers’ defensive line as he can play multiple positions. Ealy is quite an athletic player for his size and is very disruptive to opposing quarterbacks. He is still a little raw and one-dimensional, but he has already shown an incredible work ethic to coaches.
Ealy has been the first player onto the practice fields during rookie camp and the past couple of days of OTAs. The terms of the deal were not disclosed yet, but it is known to be a four-year deal. This signing leaves the Panthers with only first-round pick Kelvin Benjamin, and third-round pick Trai Turner without contracts.
Ealy’s impact will be felt more in future years though, so don’t be alarmed when he is not in the starting lineup. He will assume the role very similar to what Kawann Short filled in 2013. Coming in on sub-packages and creating mismatches where he can will be key to his learning curve.
Ealy represents tremendous value to the Panthers. He will be on a sweetheart deal for the next four years and will have a chip on his shoulder based on where he was drafted. The impending salary numbers between Johnson and Hardy will also play a role in him needing to learn on the fly to possibly takeover a starting role in 2015.
If Ealy continues to bring the positive attitude that he has displayed already and works hard, he will succeed in Carolina. The pads haven’t even begun to hit yet, but the expectations around Charlotte are high for the kid. Dave Gettleman found a gem late in the second round.