Forget just being the best defensive end in the draft. Missouri's Kony Ealy says he is the best player available.
"I feel like I'm the best guy in this draft, period," Ealy told USA Today. "And 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?"
OK, so Ealy is being hyperbolic -- and overly so. But he is an intriguing prospect. Ealy (6-foot-4, 273 pounds) had 9.5 sacks in 2013, his second season as a starter, and added 14.5 tackles for loss, six pass breakups, 14 quarterback hurries and three forced fumbles in helping Mizzou to a 12-2 season. He had a sack and three tackles for loss against Auburn's strong offensive line in the SEC championship game, then added two more sacks against Oklahoma State in a Cotton Bowl win.
Ealy turned pro a year early, then had a somewhat disappointing performance at the NFL Scouting Combine, running a 4.92 40 and posting a vertical jump of 31 inches. He did have a great time in the three-cone drill, leading all linemen with a clocking of 6.83 seconds. He [ran a 4.69 in the 40](/share/page/site/nfl-com/ran a 4.69 in the 40) and had a 32-inch vertical jump at his pro day. But NFL Media senior draft analyst Gil Brandt said Ealy's workout "did not enhance his chances to get drafted in the first round. It was a good but not excellent workout."
Ealy is considered a fringe first-round prospect; he ranks 31st on NFL Media draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah's list of the top 50 prospects. Ealy's upside as a pass rusher will entice teams, but he must add strength -- he can be overpowered at times when playing the run -- and continue to learn the nuances of the position.
South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney is considered the best defensive end in this draft and is a strong contender to be the overall No. 1 pick. Ealy told USA Today he is "real cool" with Clowney and believes he will be a good pro.
"I just hope he keeps his head straight," Ealy said. "There's no knocking him. 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 told USA Today he has worked out for seven teams and just finished his fifth visit, which will be his last. Among his visits have been trips to Carolina and Dallas.