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2022 NFL Draft Profile: Jerrion Ealy

Will Ealy find opportunity to be more than a returner?

Allstate Sugar Bowl - Baylor v Ole Miss Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

After three years at the University of Mississippi, Jerrion Ealy will look to hear his name called in the 2022 NFL Draft. The junior Jackson, Miss. native amassed 2,235 rushing yards, 545 receiving yards, 864 kick return yards and a total of 26 combined touchdowns.

Ealy’s sophomore year was his breakout season with 11 total touchdowns and 900 scrimmage yards in just 9 games played in a COVID shortened season. Poised to build on that stellar season, Ealy saw his time split with fellow draft hopeful Snoop Connor and now Miami Hurricane Henry Parrish as well as the running load carried by QB Matt Corral.

At the NFL Combine Ealy ran a 4.53 40-yard dash, had a 34.50” vertical and a 128” broad jump. He ran again at the Ole Miss Pro Day, shaving his 40 time down to 4.43.

The decision for Ealy to declare for the NFL is an interesting one considering he has already been drafted to play professional baseball as well. Most mock drafts have him going on Day 3 and possibly being a priority free agent for training camp.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 01 Allstate Sugar Bowl - Baylor v Ole Miss Photo by Chris McDill/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Best Case Scenario: The best hope for Ealy is to land somewhere that can use him like a Darren Sproles. So maybe get drafted by the Cowboys and wait for Sean Payton to take over? Ealy is not going to help any team in third down pass protection, but his ability to be an immediate check down option and work in the open field is appealing. His patient running style and ability to cut north quickly will benefit in the screen game, but he lacks the elite speed to turn the edge consistently against NFL defensive ends.

Likely Scenario: I picture Ealy’s NFL career as a returner with the occasional attempt to get more out of him, like Devin Hester. Now, Hester was an elite kick and punt returner that got looks at receiver, so I am not projecting Ealy to be elite, but that he will likely start with returns and hopefully get looks as a third down back or slot receiver.

Being one of the smaller players in the NFL, the path for a long, illustrious career for Ealy will be tough. Getting drafted into the NFL is the quicker route to both the highest level in the sport and the money than MLB, but it would not shock me to see Ealy grab the NFL bag before giving baseball another shot.