Many draft pundits, including Todd McShay (LINK) and Mel Kiper, Jr. (LINK), have mocked Florida St. DT Timmy Jernigan to the Chicago Bears for this April's NFL Draft, and as this year's Combine kicks off, another expert, Mike Mayock, weighs in as well.
In his media conference call, Mayock was asked about Jernigan, and whether he would be a good pick for Chicago.
Q: Could you explain your breakdown of the top defensive tackles?
MAYOCK: "Yeah, it's mixed bag. The defensive tackles are kind of a mixed bag, for instance, my top two guys, [Louis] Nix and [Timmy] Jernigan couldn't be different, Nix is a typical nose tackle and Jernigan is more of that three technique. I think Jernigan can step in and be special, early. I think I can Nix is a little different kind of player. He's a 330pound nose. Aaron Donald from Pitt has three technique, quick, up field penetrator, but I don't think he's going until late one, early two.
And I've talked about [Ra'Shede] Hageman as a little bit of a boomorabust, talented guy, 66, 320, who could play anywhere up and down that defensive line, and then Dominique Easley in my Top5 is injured, the second ACL and I don't think he's going to go until about the third round or so.
There are two LSU players that are second or third round guys and I think there's some pretty good depth in the first three rounds, and I think Jernigan is a guy that if he's sitting there when the Bears are on the board at 14, I think you'd sprint to the podium."
Mayock also mentioned another name, DE/LB Kony Ealy from Missouri, and whether he would be a good fit for Chicago in the 1st round. Ealy is 6'5, 276 lbs, and had an incredibly productive career with Missouri.
Q. Kony Ealy from Missouri, what is your projection for what the best fit for him will be at the next level?
MAYOCK: "As far as Ealy is concerned, ended up liking him more than I expected to, and I think he's a 4-3 defensive end. I don't really think he's an outside linebacker. I think to compare him to, say, [Aldon] Smith who came out a couple years ago. He's not quite as athletic as Aldon Smith, but he's a little more physical, a little better against the run. So I think he's probably a base 4-3 end and I think he'll go somewhere in that 20, 23 range in the first round."
Q. Would 14 be too high? The Bears need to do something on the defensive threat and with their fast rush.
MAYOCK: "No, I don't think it's too high because when you're looking at the pure 4-3 ends in this draft, they are few and far between. Clowney is going to be gone, and Ealy is there at 14, and if he's there he's a good pick and the second and third round, the logical guys are from Oregon State and maybe even Trent Murphy from Stanford."
Kony Ealy, huh? Let's take a look at a couple of Scouting Reports. The DE/LB is listed at 6'5, 276 lbs.
STRENGTHS: "Ealy's athleticism jumps off the tape. Operating at LDE for the Tigers, Ealy showed good initial quickness off the snap to force right tackles into respecting his speed rush. He also has a quick spin move back to the inside to complement his speed. Perhaps best of all, when he gets a lane, Ealy closes quickly on the ball-carrier."
WEAKNESSES: "Ealy is prone to coming off the snap too high, making himself vulnerable to cut blocks. He also spends too much time battling with blockers at the line of scrimmage, needing to improve his hand play to disengage quicker, as well as showing better awareness of where the ball is headed."
"Despite what [Michael] Sam did on the field in 2013, his teammate Kony Ealy is the better NFL prospect and could be the next name on [Criag] Kuligowski's long list of athletic defensive linemen that he helped turn into NFL stars. While offenses were paying attention to Ealy, Sam was able to rack up the impressive statistics. Meanwhile, it was Ealy who was the more impressive player during the second half of the season and the best player on Missouri's defense throughout the season."
Sometimes the guys drawing all of the double teams are the unsung heroes that don't generate as much attention from the media, but you can bet scouts and analysts have been paying attention.
Mayock sees Ealy being a 20-23 guy in the 1st round, but if Jernigan is off the board, the Bears could take a serious look here. Both Jernigan and Ealy will be participating in this week's Combine, which will kick off Friday for the defensive linemen.
Take a look at the complete scouting report of Ealy HERE and let us know your thoughts.