Ealy received a four-year deal worth about $3.5 million as the 60th player selected.
The Panthers felt they got a steal with Ealy, who was projected by some teams as a first-round pick. In 25 starts for Missouri, he had 27.5 tackles for loss, 14 sacks and 19 quarterback pressures.
Ealy's ability to play inside at tackle and end -- just as 2013 Pro Bowl selection Hardy can -- gives the team flexibility to have all three pass-rush specialists on the field at the same time.
"John Fox taught me this when I was with the Giants,'' Gettleman said of the former Carolina coach that he knew as the defensive coordinator with the New York Giants. "One of the biggest mismatches in the game is those very real sudden, quick guys inside against the 'hog mollies.' They struggle to get their gloves on them.
"Kony goes in there and he's very comfortable. He played inside against big guys in the SEC and it was never too big for him. Someone made the argument he was just as productive in the three technique as he was inside. That's a huge value.''
Asked where he is most comfortable, Ealy said, "I'm comfortable anywhere they put me on the defensive line.''