Down goes the “Kracken” — who we also know as former Carolina Panthers Defensive End Greg Hardy. After his off-the-field fiasco, he packed his bags and headed to Dallas. Now the Panthers are in need of replacing Hardy. Fear not, they have their own in-house replacement that goes by the name of Kony Ealy.
Ealy was drafted in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft, so the Panthers thought highly of him and rightfully so, racking up 9.5 QB sacks in his final season at Missouri. During training camp in 2014, Kony was off to a rough start and was sort of rushed a bit earlier than expected; thanks to Greg Hardy’s off the field issues. He didn’t grade so well at PFF as he played sparingly, overall at -15.4 with a pass rush rating of -6.1 and -8.5 against the run. So that in itself is nothing to jump at and I don’t blame you.
Put those numbers off to the side for a moment and look how Ealy improved as the season progressed (on the field) as he closed out the season with 3 sacks in a row from weeks 15-17. Although he barely saw the field in the playoffs, the snaps he did see were all about development and getting familiar with the game. The coaches praised Ealy toward the end of the season and are looking for him to take it as motivation heading into the 2015 season.
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Replacing Hardy isn’t an easy task from a football standpoint and what he brought to that defensive front. He made Charles Johnson’s job easier, that’s for sure. Heading into 2015, Ealy is the favorite to start opposite Johnson, and could lose snaps to Frank Alexander as well. The downfall to Ealy’s value would be if he’s strictly a pass rusher because he has a hard time stopping the run (he’s working hard on it). He ended his rookie season by posting 4 QB sacks, 5 QB hits, 10 QB hurries and 12 stops. His only way is up from here.
So what is his IDP impact? Ealy is definitely a sleeper candidate right now and the fact that the 4-3 DEs are diminishing by the hour means he gains a bit more value. In dynasty formats, Ealy can be a top 25 DL with a top 15 ceiling and definitely worth a gamble as your DL3 heading into the season. If Ealy can be a mainstay around 80 percent of the snaps, he can turn that into 9-11 sacks, 45-55 tackles and big increase in QB pressure. I’m pretty much saying in his sophomore season, Kony Ealy has a Chris Clemons IDP Profile.
As always, feel free to chat it up on twitter @IDPwithBEE_8o8 – aloha.