Panthers take Missouri DE Ealy in 2nd Round

Updated Mar. 4, 2020 3:49 p.m. ET

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Panthers went for the best player available rather than need in the second round, selecting defensive end Kony Ealy from Missouri with the 60th overall pick.

The 6-foot-4, 273-pound Ealy started 25 games and had 14 sacks during his three seasons at Missouri. As a senior he had 43 tackles and 9.5 sacks.

The Panthers led the NFL with 60 sacks last season and have two established starting defensive ends in Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy, the team's designated franchise player.

That didn't matter to general manager Dave Gettleman.

Gettleman said before the draft if there was a "blue goose pass rusher" on the board he wouldn't hesitate to draft him.

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Ealy is considered a multi-talented defensive end with a reputation for not only rushing the quarterback, but also playing stout against the run at the point of attack.


He also has enough speed to drop into coverage if needed.

A teammate of Michael Sam, Ealy became a full-time starter in 2012 and went on to earn All-Southeastern Conference first team honors this past season. Ealy finished last season strong, registering six tackles, two sacks and one pass deflection against Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl.

The Panthers have some young depth on the roster behind Johnson and Hardy in Wes Horton and Mario Addison. However, another backup Frank Alexander was suspended for the first four games of this season for violating the league's substance abuse policy.

The move is a bit of a surprise considering the Panthers had bigger needs at offensive tackle and cornerback.