Posted: Apr 24, 2014 7:00 PM by Thomas Bradbury, KOMU 8 Sports Digital Producer
Updated: Apr 24, 2014 6:59 PM
COLUMBIA - Who is the best player in this years NFL Draft? Jadeveon Clowney, Johnny Manziel, Greg Robinson or... Kony Ealy? Well, according to him... It's Ealy. Ealy told the USA Today, "I feel like I'm the best guy in this draft, period."
Ealy had a good season for Missouri last year. The 6-foot-4, 273 pound defensive end had nine-and-a-half sacks. The fourth-most in the SEC. Ealy also had 14-and-a-half tackles for loss. That was second most in the SEC and just four-and-a-half less than teammate Michael Sam.
Scouts like him, too. He's projected as a late first-round pick in most mock-drafts.
Bleacher Report's lead NFL Draft writer, Matt Miller, has Ealy ranked as the second-best defensive end in this years upcoming draft behind former SEC foe, South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney.
Ealy outperformed Clowney in every relevant statistical category possible last season. But Ealy lacks something Clowney does not, hype.
"There's no knocking [Clowney]," Ealy said. "But I'm the best defensive end in this draft. I may not have a whole lot of hype, but I don't [need] anybody to acknowledge me."
Ealy could become Missouri's seventh first round pick since 2009. The last first round pick from Missouri? Sheldon Richardson. Last season for the Jets, Richardson became the Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Two other Missouri first round defensive end picks have had relatively successful careers.
In 2010, the Falcons selected Sean Weatherspoon with the 19th overall pick. In 2012, Spoon was named the Falcons defensive captain. He's had solid production through his first few seasons before being sidelined last season with a knee injury.
Aldon Smith was drafted seventh-overall in the 2011 draft by the 49ers. In his rookie season, he finished second in Rookie of the Year voting, just barely behind the Broncos' Von Miller. In his second season, he was one of the best edge-rushers in football. He recoreded 19.5 sacks. He's recently been in the news for the wrong reasons following an arrest at LAX.
Ealy is ranked by Scout's Inc. as the 31st best overall prospect. But he believes he should be ranked first on that list.
"That's not a cocky thing - that's just a confidence thing. It's not just talk. It's been proven. My numbers show for it. My size and speed and agility show for it. What else can you want?"
He will be in attendance at Radio City Music Hall for the 2014 NFL Draft on Thursday, May 8.