The path to the NFL hasn’t been easy for Florida defensive tackle Dominique Easley, who sustained a knee injury in late September that cost him most of his senior season.
Before getting hurt, however, the 6-foot-2, 285-pound interior lineman was a disruptive force in the middle of the Gators’ defensive line. His last full season in 2012, Easley recorded a team-high four sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss.
Easley’s ceiling in the NFL is certainly high. He’s quick, uses his hands to his advantage and is powerful enough to hold up well against the run. In addition, his athleticism and high motor allows him to rush the passer from the middle of the defensive line. His technique and strength are among his best attributes.
There are a couple of red flags surrounding Easley, though. Because of a shortened college career, Easley still has a lot to prove. His total number of tackles dropped during the 2012 season. At less than 300 pounds, Easley is a tad undersized to be an NFL defensive tackle. There is no verdict whether he can be a true defensive tackle or an edge rusher, and he will have to shed that “tweener label” if he wants to avoid being a rotational player.
And of course, he has a past chock full of injuries. Not only did he injure his knee his senior season in Gainesville, but he tore his ACL two years earlier as well. Some players, unfortunately, cannot shed the injury-prone label.
Once believed to be a first-round selection, Easley is still widely considered a second- to third-round prospect. He comes in as the No. 82 prospect, according to CBS Sports, and the 10th-rated defensive tackle.
Teams in need of defensive tackles include the Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, Chicago Bears and Cincinnati Bengals.
Denver may be able to nab Easley — once viewed as top-10 talent in this year’s draft class — with the No. 31 pick or in the second round. Kevin Vickerson, Robert Ayers and Terrance Knighton are all free agents after the 2014 season, so Easley could be a rotational player until he develops into a full-time tackle.
The Bears also have a major need for interior lineman, though they’ll likely go after the best defensive tackle available when they’re on the clock in the first round. However, they could pad their depth chart by also adding Easley in say the second or third round, should he still be available.