The Dallas Cowboys signed defensive end, Kony Ealy, to a one-year deal Thursday night. What are the possible ramifications of such a signing?
Kony Ealy has long been the object of the Dallas Cowboys’ affection. The former second round pick of the Carolina Panthers was an admitted target of Dallas in that 2014 draft. They tried again last summer, unsuccessfully placing a waiver claim when he was cut loose.
So when news broke Thursday afternoon the Cowboys finally signed Ealy as a free agent, it was hardly a shock to anyone. But adding the former Missouri Tiger could hold draft implications, therefore we’ll take a look at that today.
Ealy, 6’4 273lbs, joins a crowded stable of linemen. Fitting solely on the edge, Ealy will be part of a group that features DeMarcus Lawrence, Tyrone Crawford, Taco Charlton, Charles Tapper, and possibly even Randy Gregory.
That’s five, possibly six, capable defensive ends on the roster. Considering there’s probably not enough room for six, let alone seven if Dallas drafts another, it probably rules out defensive end in the draft’s first stanza, right?
Not so fast
Looking the individual situations of all the Dallas defensive ends, you can see it’s possible every one of them, who’s not named after Mexican food, could be gone in 2019.
The Dallas Cowboys are simply doing what they always do this time of year: They are addressing areas of concern with modest free agent investments. The investments are in players good enough to subdue some of the worry, yet small enough not to prohibit further investment early in the draft.
If everything falls perfectly for these players, yes, the Cowboys could be over stacked on the edge. But all of these players come with an element of risk and if those flips of the coin land a different way, passing up an edge rusher may haunt the Cowboys.
Look at the players they have:
DeMarcus Lawrence – Coming off a career year and playing on a one-year franchise tag. His future with the franchise is completely unknown. If he repeats his success from 2017, he’ll probably be signed to an enormous multi-year deal. If he regresses to his career mean – who knows? The Cowboys must operate like both outcomes are possible and “Tank” may not be on the roster in 2019.
Tyrone Crawford – Yes, he’s overpaid but he’s still very productive and stout against the run when playing defensive end. Ron Marinelli leans on him heavily so like Lawrence, he’s here for 2018. And like Lawrence, after that his future is in question. He’s quite possibly playing for his job this season and could be cut next offseason for financial reasons.
Taco Charlton – We have no idea what we’ll be getting from Taco this season. He started his rookie season slow but picked up steam as the season progressed. If he continues that, he’ll be a great No. 3 edge player behind Craw and Tank. But with such a limited sample size, that projection is no sure thing.
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Kony Ealy – Ealy fits in with Taco, directly behind the starters. How much of a role he carves out is completely up in the air. Rated by Pro Football Focus as the 47th best edge pass-rusher (weighing only pass-rush skills) last season, Ealy seems to have the skills to be a decent rusher. But his run-stopping ability is abysmal so unless he takes the proper steps, don’t expect him to be any more than a role player in 2018. And playing on a one-year deal, he’ll likely be elsewhere in 2019.
Charles Tapper- Injuries have kept Tapper off the field, so banking on him in 2018 and/or beyond is irresponsible.
The former Sooner has flashed skills that gets the fan base excited but with only two NFL games to his name, he’s someone you pencil into the depth chart and keep an eraser handy. His future is very much in question.
Randy Gregory – We all know the risk involved when relying on the currently-suspended, Randy Gregory. He’s stayed clean and made big strides but the chips are still stacked against him. I think we can all feel confident the Cowboys will not be making any draft decisions based on the hope Randy Gregory will be effectively playing in 2018.
Defensive End Still a Possibility
Looking the individual situations of all the Dallas defensive ends, you can see it’s possible every one of them, who’s not named after Mexican food, could be gone in 2019. Tank’s a free agent. Craw is arguably overpaid. Tapper is an injury waiting to happen. Gregory is a suspension waiting to happen.
If a pass rusher is the best player on the board when the Cowboys go on the clock at pick 19, I fully expect the Cowboys to choose him. So it clearly makes sense for 2019 and beyond, and since a lot can happen between the draft and Week 1 of the NFL season – it may make sense in the next few months.
If Harold Landry is available when the Cowboys go on the clock, I’ll be pounding the table for him. It may sound like it’s overfilling a particular position but it’s really not once you breakdown the individual situations. That’s probably why the Cowboys still have Landry as an official 30 visitor too.