I had a feeling the Panthers would be going defense with their second round pick, but I was thinking cornerback. Instead, the Panthers draft a defensive end which is probably one of the areas least in need, until you scratch the surface. How did the guy that many labeled as the second best defensive end in the draft fall to the Panthers in round 2? Why would the Panthers select him? Well, it is fairly simple.
It begins with "unnamed NFL scouts" who questioned his attitude. .
He thinks he's already an Aldon Smith-type player," a third scout said. "Classic con man. I don't trust this kid. He will be just a big pain in the (expletive). He's one of those 'let somebody else draft him' guys." From New Madrid, Mo. Added a fourth scout: "There's no outstanding traits about him other than he gives you some versatility in a bad (defensive-line) draft. He's a mess. Somebody's going to draft him because they need a defensive end and overdraft him."
Con man... Con man... seems like I have heard that somewhere before. Oh, that's right, Cam Newton was called a con artist before the NFL draft as well. Remind me how that turned out for the Panthers.
When it comes to such strong terminology against a player, it is obviously personal. And when scouts leave the business mindset and get personal, it is time to ignore them. Clearly Gettleman saw past the rhetoric.
But is defensive end a need for the Panthers? Obviously, David Gettleman thinks so. This pick could be the biggest indicator yet on how long term contract talks are going with Greg Hardy. If Hardy is no longer with the Panthers next season, which is looking more and more likely, Ealy could possibly step in with solid production.
In Carolina, Ealy has the best case scenario. He does not have to come in and be the number one guy. He doesn't even need to be the number two guy. He can come in and learn from one of the best defensive line coaches in the game, Eric Washington. Washington has proven he can get production out of just about any defensive marginal talent given to him. I would expect big returns from a physical talent like Kony Ealy.
A realistic projection this season for Ealy would be as a situational pass rusher and in the rotation to spell Hardy and Johnson. While I would have preferred a starter in round 2, I really cannot fault Gettleman for looking to the future here and taking not only the best player available, but also a position of need.