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Veteran Kony Ealy battles speedy Charles Tapper for spot in Cowboys rotation

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The Cowboys roster is talented with only a handful of real camp battles. Let’s review the real battles on the roster.

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Jets Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

[In this series, we’re going to look at a very competitive roster and pinpoint exactly where the training camp battles will take place. The Cowboys already have plenty of guys to pencil in at starting positions and only a few roster spots are truly open. Which players really have to fight their way on the final 53? Who has the edge in these position battles?]

Edge Rusher: Who’s making the rotation of “rushmen”?

We know that the Cowboys will keep anywhere between eight and ten defensive linemen, it’s going to leave only a couple of spots up for grabs. Two guys who will be battling for a spot are veteran free agent pickup Kony Ealy and speed rusher Charles Tapper. First up, the guys who are most certainly making the team:

The Locks:

DeMarcus Lawrence- The Cowboys premier pass rusher may have to prove himself to get a big pay day but he’s clearly the best on the roster.

Tyrone Crawford- Until proven otherwise, Crawford is the best plan for the starting end position opposite of Lawrence.

Taco Charlton- As last year’s first-round pick, the Cowboys will find playing time reps for Charlton.

Dorance Armstrong- This year’s fourth-round pick will have a role carved out for him, no matter how big or small it is.

Tale of the Tape:

Let’s get a closer peek at the measurables for both Ealy and Tapper, including their resumes up to this point.

Player Height Weight Exp. Draft Stock 40 3-Cone Vertical Bench
Kony Ealy 6'4 275 5th year 2nd Rd 4.92 6.83 31 22
Charles Tapper 6'3 270 3rd year 4th Rd 4.59 N/A 34 23

Tapper has Ealy beat in an athleticism competition because of his impeccable speed. There just aren’t many guys at his size that can put up a 4.59 40-yard dash. The five-year average for a defensive lineman is 4.82. Tapper has elite speed but his vertical was also higher than the average of 33 inches. Ealy has some explosiveness in his lower body though because his 3-cone time was among the top performances in his class.

Player Games Tackles Sacks Forced Fumbles
Kony Ealy 62 94 15 6
Charles Tapper 2 3 1 0

For all of Tapper’s athletic gifts, he hasn’t been able to stay healthy. When you look at NFL production, it’s clear the Ealy has the advantage. The Cowboys aren’t afraid of getting inexperienced guys reps especially since Tapper was one of their own. However, that light bulb needs come on soon because Tapper is running out of time to claim a roster spot. It also doesn’t help that Kony Ealy was once a guy that defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli was rumored to be fond of during his draft process.

Ealy spent his first few years with the Panthers before signing a one-year deal with the Jets last season. Though Ealy was drafted in the second round, teams have had problems finding out where he really fits as he was given that tweener label coming out of college. The Cowboys believe that he’s a 4-3 end that could be a valuable member of their rotation. It’s been grilled in all our brains that Marinelli’s rushing style is that of creating waves of disruption. It’s about keeping guys fresh and rotating them in at opportune moments.

With Kris Richard in the fold, we could see some different rushing styles, including linebackers on a few more blitzes. If Tapper can stay healthy, he’s got a good opportunity on blitz packages with his elite first-step. Tapper, along with Dorance Armstrong, are the only guys currently on the roster that fits the speed rusher profile. Still, Ealy has the fast track to be a backup end because unlike Tapper, he’s a little more polished at changing direction and seems to rush with more purpose. Tapper must control his movements more to be successful, in limited exposure, he was able to get a sack but he needs to hone his skill set and learn that speed isn’t everything.

Ultimately, Kony Ealy has question about his consistency but he’s far more ready than Charles Tapper. There is another question here and that’s what’s happening with Randy Gregory. If reinstated, he becomes a competitor at defensive end, which will have a ripple effect at the position. Kony Ealy just seems like the safer bet to go with if the Cowboys want more impact.

EDGE: Kony Ealy

Poll

Who do you want to win a DE spot between Charles Tapper and Kony Ealy?

This poll is closed

  • 45%
    Charles Tapper
    (1477 votes)
  • 54%
    Kony Ealy
    (1783 votes)
3260 votes total Vote Now