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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Around The Draft: Stephon Tuitt, Kony Ealy

I'm attempting to catch up a bit on my Around The Draft profiles, and I'm throwing out a different type of guy this time, double dipping with a pair of edge rushers.   As Carolina reaches a minimum amount of necessary veterans at every position except arguably OT, a true Best Player approach becomes more and more possible.

So, I'm throwing out an oddball, Notre Dame's Stephon Tuitt.  The swing DT/DE is a massive prospect in the late first round - a 6'5, 300 lb defensive lineman who essentially fits anywhere on almost any defense.  He could play two-gap DE, though most 3-4 teams are one-gap anymore; he can play that 5-technique well, I'm sure he could fit at 3-tech if needed, and he's a guy who could project outside at left end. 

He has a concern about motor and work, where he struggled early in his junior year with an injury and wasn't in good shape, all after a ridiculously good sophomore season.  He also showed up at combine with an unaddressed foot issue that makes some of the combine and workout numbers a mystery.  In this system, with our DTs and DEs, I like how he'd have to fight for reps, and the team clearly did consider that with the Star Lotulelei/Kawann Short duo (both of which had to take on too much in college in reps and role).  He has near - elite level athleticism for his size,
which if you can harness it could be lethal, though he's not quite as sudden at edge rushing as other big men Carolina has run through here (Greg Hardy, Julius Peppers).

He's risky - which comes with high reward, of course.

I'd like to knock out Kony Ealy as well - a similarly large DE who I tend to like more for the edge and less for the versatility of Tuitt (I find him a better prospect, if we're taking score).  6'4, 273, a part of an amazing rush in Missouri, now in the SEC.  He plays quicker than he times his 40 (4.9), showing very good 3-cone and shuttle numbers.  He shows strong aptitude for pursuit and can drop to coverage if that's what you need. 

He can get stronger, and he's not as good as he will be whil he gets his technique up; he won't survive double teams yet.  He plays the run better in pursuit than head-up, but isn't giving a lot of ground either way. 

With either player you get high value.  You get what you pay for early on, regarding measurables, in a way that later picks might have you choosing between being able to play the run well or the pass well.  Both of these players provide the ability to get out from under Charles Johnson's contract, or not pay Greg Hardy eventually, depending on your viewpoint.    Of the two, Ealy fits better, and has more high end. 

It's not the ideal way to go for needs-based analysis, but there's a legitimate philosophy in play for this type pick.  If it were me, in a bubble, I'd extend Johnson's contract rather than dump him, as he's still playing at a high level and has many years left. 
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