Brilliant Combine Performance Propels DE Up Many Teams' Draft Boards
Missouri defensive end Michael Sam may have gotten all the publicity during the Tigers' 2013 season, but his teammate on the other side of the defensive line, Kony Ealy, is projected to be selected in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Fresh off a 9.5-sack campaign, Ealy shot up draft boards after the NFL Combine, where he posted a 6.83-second three-cone drill time, fastest among defensive linemen and proof of his freaky-quick change-of-direction ability. He even pronounced himself the best player in the draft. We caught up with Ealy to chat about his rapidly rising draft stock.
STACK: What's up, man? What's been going on?
Kony Ealy: It's been rapid. Really busy, which is a good thing. Meeting different people, meeting different teams, talking different terminology with them and doing a lot of interviews. I just did a charity event for my sister, and a week before that I did a charitable event for my old AAU basketball team in St. Louis. I've just been doing stuff like that with my time off, which, I don't actually have time off.
I imagine things have been a little crazy. Your "I'm the best player in this draft" comment really caused a stir.
A lot of people know what I said and know what I meant by it. I definitely wasn't trying to disrespect anybody, but at the same time you don't go into this draft thinking you are second best to anybody. And I have the facts and stats to prove it. I have the athleticism and I'm gifted. It's proof. It's nothing that I'm saying that's smoke coming out of my mouth. When you have Hall of Famers telling you certain things, their résumé goes longer than yours and you have no choice but to believe it. But if you have confidence in yourself, you believe in your own game, too.
You seem like a pretty confident dude.
I've had a high belief about myself all my life, period. I'm a competitor and I'm a high confidence guy.
Before the draft process started, people seemed to know only about Michael Sam from the Mizzou defensive line. Now your name is everywhere. What are some things you worked on leading up to the Combine?
I was working on technique stuff. There were a lot of questions [about that] after my season. I worked on a lot of different things, like footwork. Footwork helps with everything. When I don't have my feet squared or I step a certain way, I get high or I don't use my right hand placement sometimes. I've been doing a lot of different things to help and elevate my game.
Some reports have you going fairly early in the first round if you can put on some weight and make the switch to defensive tackle. Is this something you think you can do?
Definitely. Anything to help the team win or succeed. I want to win Super Bowls. You definitely have to respect the league, it's the hardest league to play in, period. At the same time, I'm a confident guy. So whatever team I'm on, I'm going to do my best and my part to help make that team succeed. And that goes with learning from different guys, veterans and stuff, coming in and listening and applying everything they are saying to the field. Hopefully it will make my game that much better and will help us win a championship.
You're one of 30 players attending the Draft in person. Do you have any expectations?
I expect to go there and have a good time. Everything will handle itself. Every team that knows about me knows my capabilities and knows that I can help the team. So we will see what they think and who decides to pick me first.
For whatever team that ends up with you, what's the biggest thing you, personally, want to work on when you get there?
Biggest thing I can work on, always, is learning from each and every one of my teammates. Getting acquainted with everyone. Also, when it's time to work, bring that effort every day. That's all that coaches want. Effort every day. Doing my part and bringing a good image to the team.
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