Ekuban Signs with Cleveland

Free agent defensive end Ebenezer Ekuban agreed to a contract Wednesday with the Cleveland Browns. The former North Carolina star leaves Dallas never truly living up to expectations of a first round pick.

Ebenezer Ekuban never quite lived up to expectations after being drafted in the first round out of North Carolina in 1999.

Perhaps that's an understatement.

Ekuban, who in the past has admittedly felt pressured to live up to his lofty draft status, knows his struggles have had more to do with poor play rather than injury.

Nevertheless, his inability to stay healthy was a primary reason for his lack of productivity.

During his second year in the league, he led the Cowboys with 6 1/2 sacks and appeared to be a player on the rise in the eyes of most analysts. However the next year in the season opener, Ekuban had a herniated disc in his back that required surgery and missed 15 games.

He quickly recovered to record season highs in tackles (43) and quarterback pressures (20) in 2002 only to be brought down by his inability to get the quarterback on the ground.

He recorded just one sack in 16 games.

Once Bill Parcells arrived in Dallas, he admitted that Ekuban had some work to do, but was willing to give him the opportunity to succeed wearing the silver and blue.

"He is not physically a big guy," said Parcells last year during training camp.

"He is going to have to go against these big tackles. You have to figure out a way to compete against the guy you are playing against regardless of the difference in ability. He has the acceleration and speed to be successful if he can mix up the technique just enough to create a little indecision and give the tackle some else to think about."

Ekuban, who is believed to have signed a three-year deal with the Browns, recorded just 12.5 sacks in 5 season with the Cowboys.

The Cowboys are now likely to attempt to fill their needs on the defensive line via free agency with Marcellus Wiley and also in this April's draft.

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