Kony Ealy, Michael Sam Make Sense for Cincinnati Bengals
By Chris Roling
Jan 3, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Missouri Tigers defensive lineman Kony Ealy (47) during the game against the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the 2014 Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium. Missouri won 41-31. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Kony Ealy and Michael Sam are two names to watch in the 2014 NFL draft as the Cincinnati Bengals potentially look to add another defensive end after the departure of Michael Johnson.
As expected, the Bengals were one of 31 teams in attendance to see Ealy and Sam at Missouri’s pro day, according to NFL Network’s Albert Breer:
From the sounds of reports, Ealy once again had the look of a first-round pick, while Sam struggled to show his versatility and eventually wound up being sidelined from the 40-yard dash thanks to a minor injury, according to CBS Sports’ Jeff Reynolds:
"After completing one 40-yard dash in an unofficial 4.73 seconds, Sam was sidelined from his second attempt by a right hamstring strain. He did go on to post a 30-inch vertical, a five-inch improvement from Indianapolis, and gutted his way through linebacker drills.The 40 time is faster than he posted in Indianapolis (4.91) but leaves many questions unanswered for a player likely being evaluated as a niche pass rusher who would play only a part-time role in the NFL, in addition to special teams. The linebacker drills were the most important of the day for Sam as he attempts to show NFL teams running 3-4 base defenses that he’s a potential stand-up pass rusher despite struggling with that transition at the Senior Bowl."
Obviously, Sam was none too thrilled with the result:
Regardless, both Ealy and Sam remain in play for Cincinnati on draft day.
The Bengals don’t need another defensive end, with the combo of Wallace Gilberry and Margus Hunt expected to see most of the snaps at one spot or another, but added depth and a rotational piece can’t hurt.
It’s doubtful the team wants to grab a potential every-down starter like Ealy in the first round, but the Bengals have done crazier things in recent years — such as drafting a second tight end.
The safer bet is actually on the Bengals grabbing Sam in the mid-rounds. The talk of his falling to the fifth or lower is greatly exaggerated — there’s always room for additional pass-rushers at the pro level. His clear lack of scheme versatility is hurting his stock, but Marvin Lewis and Co. surely wouldn’t mind picking him up in the third or fourth round and letting him rush in a rotational capacity.
Cincinnati was simply doing its due diligence by being in attendance at Missouri’s pro day. That said, it helps to serve as a reminder that Missouri has two defensive end prospects the team may be very interested in come draft day.