Jerrion Ealy, RB, Ole Miss
The Arizona Cardinals re-signed James Conner, who’s a bigger back. Conner is listed at 6’1” 233 pounds. He’s a versatile player who showed that he can be a legitimate three-down back. Despite that, Arizona will want to replace the smaller and quicker Chase Edmonds who is 5’9” 205.
Mississippi’s Jerrion Ealy fits the bill. He’s 5’9” 185 and was named second team All-SEC in each of his three years in Oxford. Ealy consistently produced at Ole Miss, as he recorded at least 700 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns in his freshman, sophomore, and junior seasons. His career yards per carry average was an efficient 5.8.
Jerrion Ealy is a traditional scatback. He’s small, but very quick and elusive. He ran a 4.52 40-yard dash at the combine but should play faster than that. Ealy can get up to top speed quickly. He reminds me of another Ole Miss running back from over a decade ago: Dexter McCluster. Both were smaller backs who ran 4.5+ in the 40-yard dash and played their college ball in Oxford. The difference is in Ealy’s pedigree.
A five-star prospect coming out of high school, Jerrion Ealy decided to stay in his home state and attend Ole Miss. He was a tremendous athlete, as he was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 31st round of the 2019 MLB Draft. Ealy was also a star sprinter for the track team in high school.
His lateral agility and ability to make defenders miss are both skills that could translate to the NFL level. And the fact that he never carried the ball more than 150 times in any of his three college seasons could mean that his best football might still be ahead of him.
The problems with Jerrion Ealy are what you might expect for a small back projected to go in the sixth round. He’ll likely have a tough time pass blocking due to his small stature. He’ll also be facing much stronger defenders in the NFL and he may not be able to pick up as many yards after contact as he did in college.
He probably won’t be able to be an every down workhorse back in the NFL, but if the Arizona Cardinals can nab him in the sixth or seventh round of the 2022 NFL Draft, they won’t need him to be. Jerrion Ealy could be the lightning to James Conner’s thunder.