We’ve already learned a little bit about Dominique Easley, the Patriots’ first-round pick (29th overall) and new interior pass rusher. For even more insight, we turn to an old friend who has good perspective – Palm Beach Post sports writer Jason Lieser, who now covers the Miami Heat but previously covered the Florida Gators from 2010-2014, which happens to be the exact time frame Easley was in Gainesville.
Jason was nice enough to take a few minutes out of his busy playoff schedule to answer some questions about Easley for us:
What was your reaction when you heard Easley went in the first round?
He is widely believed to have first-round ability, but there were questions about his health and discipline. When he was at full strength, which was rare during his time at Florida, he probably had the fastest first step of any defensive lineman in the SEC. He never put up dominant statistics, but was terrifically disruptive.
What type of player was he when healthy? Where did the Gators use him in the defense?
Florida had a lot of depth issues during Easley’s career and moved him around because he was one of the few proven talents available. He was reasonably effective at defensive end, but clearly felt more comfortable and played better at tackle. He can be effective at tackle in the 4-3 or 3-4, and New England will have the flexibility to use him on the outside if necessary.
Easley tore both ACLs – how did they happen, and how concerned would you be that he can return fully healthy?
He tore both of them in non-contact incidents, the left as a sophomore and the right early in his senior season. It is tough to project whether he will bounce back from the latest injury, but he seemed to completely recover from the first one after about a year. He was slow the season after the injury, but got his speed back heading into the 2013 season. It would have been interesting to see what kind of year Easley put together as a senior because he was scary in his first four games.
What was Easley like to cover? What’s his personality like? Was he a team captain or well-liked by his teammates? Do you have a favorite story?
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