Football / Sports

Florida defensive tackle Dominique Easley doesn't watch game, he just plays it

It's unclear how many professional football players actually watch the sport in their free time, though it's likely more than the public would suspect.

However, all Florida defensive tackle Dominique Easley knows is that he isn't one of them.

"I don't really watch football," Easley said at the combine, when asked who he compares himself to in the NFL. "I just try to be who I am."

In fact, in a further moment of candor, Easley -- a potential second-day pick in this year's draft -- told reporters that he's never watched a full game from start to finish.

"I might change it to a cartoon or something," he said. "I like to play. Just because you're not watching football doesn't mean you don't love football. I have another life, also."

Easley said that other life revolves around spending time with his 1-year-old son, Dominique II.

But don't get it twisted -- the 6-foot-2, 288-pounder loves the game, and really, all one has to do is turn on the film to see that. Few defensive linemen play harder than the athletic Easley, who had 72 tackles, 51/2 sacks and 18 tackles for loss in college was once rated as high as No. 9 on ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay's big board before a torn ACL and meniscus in his right knee ended his senior season after only three games.

That injury, not to mention the fact he also tore the ACL in his left knee in 2011, has led to some durability concerns that have effected his draft stock.

"He's a talented pass rusher, and his success against elite competition speaks for itself," CBSSports.com draft analyst Rob Rang said. "The durability concerns are a concern, but (in the third round), I think he's a risk worth taking."

The good news for Easley, who said he felt about 80 percent recovered at his pro day on April 17, is that his particular set of skills could not be more in demand. The NFL now a passing league, and defenders who provide interior pressure like Easley are at a premium.

In fact, Chiefs general manager John Dorsey recently agreed with the notion that because of this, more and more teams are even willing to bend on scheme fit to find players to rush the passer.

For instance, last year the New York Jets, who run a 3-4 defense, took super-quick Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, a prototype tackle in a 4-3 defense, in the first round. Richardson proceeded to record 78 tackles and 31/2 sacks be named defensive rookie of the year.

"I think the game has truly been extended out, the speed of the game has gotten a lot faster," Dorsey said. "Anytime you can generate internal pressure with the pass rush, I think that's critical because it helps those defensive backs in the secondary as well. So, anytime you can get an interior pass rusher, there is some added value within that pick."

Dorsey also said that while the Chiefs run a 3-4 defense, which historically relies on old-school five-technique, two-gap run stuffers at defensive end, defensive coordinator Bob Sutton prefers to use a three-technique player at one of the interior spots, someone who can get upfield and rush the passer.

"I've always had a cookie cutter image of what a 3-4 defensive end is supposed to be like, but in Coach Sutton's defense, he has a big five-technique end and a three-technique defensive end; two distinctly different players to play those positions to succeed," Dorsey said.

Easley is obviously fits the three-technique role. Problem is, the Chiefs already signed Vance Walker to play the role, and moreover, they don't have a second-round pick, which -- with a team that has so many needs -- can complicate any desire to take the best player available in the third round.

However, there are a lot of other teams that can use Easley's motor and athleticism, and for that reason, Rang suspects the still-healing defensive tackle who loves the game but doesn't watch it at home could still be in demand.

"I could see him going as high as the second round, which is a little rich for my blood considering two ACLs, but I could see somebody doing it because this is not a very good class for interior pass rushers," Rang said.

TOP 10 PROSPECTS FOR THE CHIEFS

1. Aaron Donald, 6-1, 285, Pittsburgh

Prototype three-technique tackle is incredibly productive and disruptive. Size is only concern but he dominated all comers at the Senior Bowl and checks all the boxes. Has excellent quickness of the snap and plays hard. Has 291/2 career sacks.

2. Ra'Shede Hageman, 6-6, 310, Minnesota

Excellent size, length and workout numbers. Has basketball background. Could play inside in multiple schemes. Old for a rookie (24). Motor runs hot and cold. Has immense upside but needs to be coached up.

3. Stephon Tuitt, 6-5, 304, Notre Dame

Prototype five-technique. Excellent size and length. Has the strength to anchor and also has excellent pass-rush production (19 1/2 sacks in '12 and '13). Was better in 2012. Has been nicked up for the last two years.

4. Dominique Easley, 6-2, 288, Florida

Prototype three-technique with excellent quickness of the snap. Plays with great effort. Shows pass-rush ability. Is best shooting gaps. Has had ACL injuries in both knees.

5. Ed Stinson, 6-3, 287, Alabama

Projects as a stout five-technique in a 3-4 scheme but can play nose, too. Is strong and shows the ability to anchor and two-gap. Plays hard. Likely a two-down player.

6. DaQuan Jones, 6-4, 332, Penn State

Big body with good length who primarily attacked gaps in college. Shows OK athleticism and good quickness of the snap but can be moved on double teams. Limited pass-rush productivity.

7. Anthony Johnson, 6-2, 308, LSU

Big body who projects as a three-technique. Good quickness of the snap and has a closing burst, but needs to get much stronger at the point of attack and work on his pass-rush skills. Must be more consistent.

8. Will Sutton, 6-0, 303, Arizona State

Bit of a projection because he gained a lot of bad weight in 2013, but he played his tail off in 2012. Short arms but very quick first step. Can be disruptive three-technique. Has 20 1/2 career sacks so he can get to the quarterback. Inconsistent effort in 2013 due to weight issues.

9. Brent Urban, 6-7, 295, Virginia

Huge frame with great length, looks like a prototype five-technique. Shows the ability to two gap. Plays hard. Has limited pass-rush production but knocks down a ton of passes. Significant durability concerns will hurt his stock -- has been injured several times since he entered college.

10. Ego Ferguson, 6-3, 315, LSU

Big frame and good athleticism -- looks the part. Is raw and has some moldable tools. Needs to get stronger and is on the ground too much. Limited pass-rush production.

--All evaluations and rankings are based largely on multiple draft profiles -- thanks to NFL.com, ESPN.com, CBSSports.com and DraftNasty's 2014 NFL Draft Manual, in terviews with draft analysts and the author's own film evaluations. Measurements and testing results are from the combine and pro days, according to the resources listed above.

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