Taking a look at selected players leading up to the NFL draft, which begins May 8. The reports are based on watching their games on draftbreakdown.com, and reading various reports from ESPN.com, CBSSports.com and NFL.com. I'm not a fan of having to only watch them off a TV feed, but it's the best I can do now and it helps provide a snapshot. The draft analysts help fill in the gap.
Player: Demarcus Lawrence
School: Boise State
What he plays: Outside linebacker/defensive end
College production: Had 20 sacks and 34 tackles for a loss in two seasons after transferring from Butler Community College.
How he’d fit: As an outside linebacker; possible replacement for either Brian Orakpo or Ryan Kerrigan, if they decide they don’t want to have two expensive outside linebackers either next year or in 2016.
What I like: He made plays behind the line of scrimmage quite often, a combination of talent, recognition and effort. His hand placement was excellent -- very tight -- and allowed him to consistently shed blocks on plays away from him (and sometimes when at him). On his first snap against Fresno State, he got his hands into the right tackle, shed the block and made a tackle on a swing pass. He’s athletic and appears to have long arms, both attributes will help as a pass-rusher. He has experience rushing on both the right and left sides, almost exclusively from a three-point stance. Lawrence showed versatility in his moves, though it seemed his best were his swim move and a rip move. I liked his first step. Lawrence showed a spin move on occasion, though in the games I watched it didn’t result in a whole lot. Still, it’s part of his arsenal and can be honed.
What I don’t: He only ran a 4.80 in the 40-yard dash at the combine. Both Kerrigan and Orakpo were in the mid 4.6’s when they ran their 40 at the combine. The straight-line speed prevented Lawrence from making more plays. At times he got too upright and controlled, especially on plays right at him. That could be a function of just needing to add size and strength. At 245 pounds he’d need to bulk up to play outside linebacker in the 3-4. Also, Lawrence was suspended two times in 2012 and once in 2013 for an unspecified violation of team rules. Obviously that’s never a good sign and must be investigated by any team interested in him.
Where he’s projected: Late first, second round. Lawrence has definite pass-rushing skills and would be an interesting player worth developing. He has to learn to drop into coverage, but could be worked into the rotation as a rusher. He'd do well to go somewhere he doesn't have to start immediately.