- Sam Khan Jr., ESPN Staff Writer
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The next player on our list of the SEC's 25 best was someone not on our preseason list, but he played his way onto the postseason list with his play in 2013.
No. 17: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri, Jr.
2013 summary: Senior defensive end Michael Sam garnered most of the headlines and the individual honors when it came to discussing Missouri's defense in 2013 -- and rightfully so -- but Ealy was no slouch. Lining up opposite Sam, the 6-foot-5, 275-pound Ealy picked up 14.5 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks, both totals that ranked second on the team. He helped power a Tigers defense that ranked No. 1 in the SEC in sacks and fourth nationally. In addition to his pass-rushing prowess -- which included a team-high 14 quarterback hurries -- Ealy collected 43 tackles, six pass breakups, forced three fumbles, recovered one fumble and intercepted a pass.
Most recent ranking: Not ranked in the 2013 preseason countdown
Making the case for Ealy: He has a lot of the tools you look for in a player at his position -- size, strength and speed. He was not only an impressive pass rusher but also a good run defender. He's explosive, exhibits a variety of moves and offers a lot of attributes that NFL scouts like, which is a reason he declared for early entry into this year's draft. Ealy was a member of the most productive pass rushing duo in the SEC as he and Sam combined for 20 sacks.
8hEdward Aschoff and Greg Ostendorf