Washington Redskins: Demarcus Lawrence

Redskins trade with Cowboys

May, 9, 2014
May 9
7:34
PM ET
The Redskins wanted to add more picks, and that's what they did in the second round. Washington traded the No. 34 pick in the draft to the Dallas Cowboys in exchange for two picks.

Washington picks up the Cowboys' second-round pick (47th overall) and third-round pick (78th overall). Dallas selected pass-rusher Demarcus Lawrence at 34.

This is the move I felt Washington wanted to do all along, knowing that one defensive player they really liked -- linebacker Marcus Smith -- was drafted in the first round. They like a number of other defensive players but weren't in love with any of them enough to choose anyone. They also like several offensive tackles, who could be in play at Nos. 47, 66 (the Redskins' pick in the third) and 78.
I'm taking a look at selected players leading up to the NFL draft, which begins Thursday night. The reports are based on watching multiple games on draftbreakdown.com; I'll let you know when there is an opinion other than my own. I'm not a fan of having to only watch them off a TV feed -- you don't always get the best angle, or see all the players -- but it's the best I can do now and it helps provide a snapshot. The draft analysts -- especially those from ESPN.com, NFL.com and CBSSports.com -- help fill in the gap, especially in terms of where they are projected.

Player: Dee Ford

Ford
College: Auburn

Position: Outside linebacker

College production: He had 29 tackles, including 14.5 for loss and 10.5 sacks, according to Auburn's website. He finished his career with 27.5 tackles for loss and 20.5 sacks.

How he'd fit: As another pass-rusher, capable of playing in nickel situations. (Remember: The Redskins were in nickel nearly 70 percent of the time last season.) He could eventually take over for Brian Orakpo, if they let him walk after this season (and don't feel like paying two outside linebackers big money).

What I liked: His speed. It's really hard not to like it considering how fast he ran at his pro day (4.59 in the 40). But it's not just his speed, it's his first step and ability to anticipate the snap. It'll be harder to do that against NFL quarterbacks, but it was easy in college. There were times when I'd hit pause and Ford would be a yard in the backfield while everyone else along the front was still at the line. Ford dominated in the Senior Bowl, giving right tackle Jack Mewhort fits among others. At times the right tackles would have to almost run to a spot rather than slide because Ford would win otherwise. Love his motor; did not see him quit on plays and would see him pursue ball carriers even when he appeared to have no chance. Set up interior rushers with his pressure. He has strong hands; at times he was able to grab onto the quarterback with one hand and drag him down while still being blocked. They make up for average arm length. Fared well against Texas A&M's Cedric Ogbuehi. Ford rushed from both the right and left sides and also from a three-point stance, a four-point stance and standing up. He's very athletic and has good change-of-direction ability, though he's more comfortable going forward than in space.

What I didn't: I did not see him being all that strong against the run. He was much easier to block in that area than in the pass game. I did not see him getting off run blocks enough to make plays or to set a hard edge against tackles. He would need to probably add 10 more pounds to help become more effective in this area -- and learn to take on double-teams -- otherwise he'll just be an extra rusher. But I could see him being a threat to make plays from the backside because of his speed and quickness. I saw him drop into coverage only a couple of times and usually to take the running back one-on-one. He'll have to improve there. He missed games each season due to injuries so durability will be a concern. He did not make game-changing plays: one forced fumble and one interception in his career.

Projection: Possible late first, second. Ford is considered a bit of a tweener -- is he a 4-3 end or a 3-4 outside linebacker? I did not see a reason he couldn't find his way in either one, but in both cases he'll be limited early. It'll be best to use him as a rusher in his first season and then develop the rest of his game. On the positive side, he received high marks for intangibles.

Other players examined:

Deone Bucannon

Kyle Van Noy

Jimmie Ward

Morgan Moses

Demarcus Lawrence

Chris Borland

Charles Sims

Cyrus Kouandjio

Jack Mewhort
Ra'Shede Hageman

Antonio Richardson
I'm taking a look at selected players leading up to the NFL draft, which begins May 8. The reports are based on watching multiple games on draftbreakdown.com; I'll let you know when there is an opinion other than my own. I'm not a fan of having to only watch them off a TV feed -- you don't always get the best angle, or see all the players -- but it's the best I can do now and it helps provide a snapshot. The draft analysts -- especially those from ESPN.com, NFL.com and CBSSports.com -- help fill in the gap, especially in terms of where they are projected.

Player: Ra'Shede Hageman

[+] EnlargeRa'Shede Hageman
Jesse Johnson/USA TODAY SportsRa'Shede Hageman is projected to be a late first-round pick, and could slip to the Redskins at No. 34.
College: Minnesota

Position: Defensive line

College production: Third-team All-American this past season. He had 13 tackles for loss and eight batted passes in earning team MVP honors in 2013.

How he'd fit: As a versatile lineman, capable of playing end in a 3-4 and rushing inside in a nickel package. The Redskins could have four defensive linemen 30 or older when the season begins. It would be good to get a little more youth. Even though they signed Jason Hatcher to help the interior rush, they still need more help/depth in this area. Hageman likely will work best in a one-gap scheme, which the Redskins might use more of this season.

What I liked: He makes some plays that definitely whet the appetite, so there is definite potential with him. The skills are evident and, if developed, he could be a definite presence as an interior rusher. He definitely looks the part -- and then some. I saw him drive a Wisconsin guard back in a short-yardage situation, reach over and help make the stop with one arm, displaying his power. On another play, he drilled the left guard back, knock him to the ground and then, as Hageman fell on top of the guard, he reached over and made a tackle at the running back's feet for a loss. At times, he displays an excellent initial burst -- with both hands and feet -- and played with good power. He had a couple of batted passes that were impressive. On one, as he ran a stunt to his right, he continued to drive the guard back while jumping and deflecting the pass. He had consecutive nice plays against Iowa: first, while aligned over center, he used a swim move to get past and record a tackle for a loss. On the next play, he powered his way to the left and made a stop for a 3-yard gain on second-and-long. He has long arms, which are always a good plus for a lineman. He was Athletic enough to have considered playing hoops at Minnesota.

What I didn't: He'll flash, but leaves you wanting more. You'd see a big-time play on one snap and then scratch your head for the next several. I would not use the words "high motor" to describe him. He wasn't horrible, but could have been a lot better. He did not get back into plays once taken out, even when there was an opportunity where he could help. He struggled against double-teams; obviously those can be difficult but he was unable to anchor and would end up sliding back a few yards. He would get too upright and allow himself to be taken out of plays. I did not see any real moves as a pass-rusher, so he would need good coaching in this area. Sometimes drifted as a rusher, perhaps because he didn't seem to have much of a plan while trying to get to the quarterback. I wonder about his instincts locating he ball. If Hageman had been more productive or consistent, he's a top-16 pick based on his ability but he takes a fall because of his inconsistencies.

Projection: Late first. There's a good chance Hageman will be gone when the Redskins select at 34, but most mock drafts I've seen peg him as a very late first-round pick -- 29 to New England seems to be a popular choice. But that also means there's a chance he'll be available considering the Redskins own the second pick in the second round. It's unlikely, but it's not a stretch. Read this to learn more about Hageman's upbringing. He had some issues at Minnesota, but he was also a team captain last season.
I'm taking a look at selected players leading up to the NFL draft, which begins May 8. The reports are based on watching multiple games on draftbreakdown.com; I'll let you know when there is an opinion other than my own. I'm not a fan of having to only watch them off a TV feed -- you don't always get the best angle, or see all the players -- but it's the best I can do now and it helps provide a snapshot. The draft analysts -- especially those from ESPN.com, NFL.com and CBSSports.com -- help fill in the gap, especially in terms of where they are projected.

Player: Jack Mewhort

School: Ohio State

Position: Offensive tackle

College production: Three-year starter; team captain in 2013. Started 39 straight games and played 49 straight overall. Started games at left tackle, right tackle and both guard spots.

How he'd fit: He'd be the right tackle of the future, but to expect him to be a Day 1 starter would be asking a lot. He'll take a little time to develop, depending on the system.

What I liked: He did an excellent job with straight-ahead blocking and when he locked on a guy he kept control. At times he'd drive his man off the ball, with an occasional pancake block (as he had versus Wisconsin) thanks to keeping his feet moving. Mewhort played with a good awareness for the most part when it came to handling stunts and line games. I could see him at times blocking one man, yet keeping his eye on the linebacker just in case. When he kept his hands a little tighter, it made a big difference in his blocking. His arm length is ideal for a tackle (34 inches). He's a pretty good, but not great, finisher on his blocks and has a pretty good first step in pass protection, most of the time. Mewhort was a good leader and competitor. He has good strength and the ability to absorb. If playing him at tackle doesn't work, he could slide inside. It may be a better fit, but he has to be tried at tackle first.

What I don't: Mewhort was way too inconsistent with his hands. I stopped the frame one time just to see where his hands were with his man a yard in front of him. Mewhort's hands were below his knees. The result, as happened too often: The defender would get his hand into his chest and drive him back. Mewhort could anchor much of the time, but if that happens in the NFL it'll be trouble. His arm length is negated by inconsistent technique; not just low but sometimes too wide as well. Clemson end Vic Beasley's speed was too much for Mewhort in the Orange Bowl. Beasley beat him with speed to the edge and also crossed him up to get inside and even pushed him back because of the low/slow hands. These will be issues to correct even if he's moved to the right side. It's not as if right tackles face only slow players. When Mewhort tries to get too wide too fast, he gets upright and then loses. There was an occasional lunge as well when dealing with speed. Too often he struggled with second-level blocks, whether because of angles or he didn't get there quick enough. I also saw him fall several times getting to the linebackers.

Projection: Third-fourth round. Mewhort has raw tools to work with, but he also has areas to clean up before he can be counted on as a starter -- which is why this is where he's projected.

Other players examined:

Deone Bucannon

Kyle Van Noy

Jimmie Ward

Morgan Moses

Demarcus Lawrence

Chris Borland

Charles Sims

Cyrus Kouandjio
Some thoughts from ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay on the Redskins' draft:
  1. In a conference call with NFL Nation reporters last week, I asked McShay about who would represent the best value at 34 as far as pass rushers go. I should have clarified that it could also apply to an interior rusher. It would not surprise me if the Redskins went in one of four directions with this pick (pass rusher, safety, right tackle, inside linebacker). But by pass rusher, that could mean an outside linebacker or someone inside to help more in the nickel. My thought has been more about finding additional interior help. The line has four players who will be 30 or older this season: Jason Hatcher, Barry Cofield, Stephen Bowen and Kedric Golston.
  2. If they took an outside linebacker, and they had several visits with them, then that player would obviously sit behind Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo for a year at least. Not sure how wild they are about Kyle Van Noy, but his versatility could help (though, personally, I've liked other players more than him).
  3. McShay said about pass rushers at 34: "That might be the sweet spot in this class in terms of outside guys. I don't know if they'd spend that pick on an outside linebacker. You have [Jeremiah] Attaochu, [Demarcus] Lawrence, who played a hybrid role, and Dee Ford. I've seen him play with his hand in the dirt and from a two-point stance. All could be around when the first round is done. If you're looking for value, it's a good spot."
  4. In their mock draft Thursday night, Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay had the Redskins taking Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland at 34 and tackle Jack Mewhort in the third round. Not sure about Borland; there are definite parts of his game I like, but not sold that he's best for Washington. Mewhort is fine as a right tackle prospect.
  5. Here's what McShay said of Borland: "He wouldn't be a bad choice at all. I picture him more as a middle linebacker being protected. He can do a lot of the same things inside in a 3-4 scheme. After [C.J.] Mosley and Borland, there's a real drop-off at that inside linebacker position. You get down to the fourth round probably before you'd feel good about an inside linebacker."
  6. McShay said Preston Brown and Shayne Skov would be options starting at that point, though he said Skov is more a fifth- or sixth-round pick.
Taking a look at selected players leading up to the NFL draft, which begins May 8. The reports are based on watching multiple games on draftbreakdown.com, and reading various reports from ESPN.com, CBSSports.com and NFL.com. But I'll let you know when there's an opinion other than my own. I'm not a fan of having to only watch them off a TV feed -- you don't always get the best angle, or see all the players -- but it's the best I can do now and it helps provide a snapshot. The draft analysts help fill in the gap, especially in terms of where they're projected.

Player: Chris Borland

School: Wisconsin

What he plays: Inside linebacker

[+] EnlargeChris Borland
Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY SportsChris Borland had helped Wisconsin stay among the league's top teams.
College production: Set a Big Ten record for forced fumbles (13). Also had 50 tackles for a loss in his career. Recorded 102 tackles and four sacks this past season in being named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the year. First Badger linebacker to earn first-team All-America honors since 1951.

How he'd fit: He'd eventually start alongside Perry Riley inside, though the Redskins would not need him to do so immediately with Darryl Sharpton and Akeem Jordan on the roster. Could help on special teams.

What I liked: His competitiveness. Borland was always around the ball, no matter where the play ended up being made. When the play was in front of him, Borland was an excellent tackler. So in a more physical game, like against Ohio State, his impact was greater. On three occasions he met Carlos Hyde in the hole and won, including two short-yardage situations. Just excellent tackles: Knees bent, head up and driving through the man. Borland knows how to play and anticipates the snap count well, allowing him to play fast. (The true measure of speed is not with a stopwatch, but in how fast they play. He plays to his speed; many do not. They might run well, but they don't play fast.) It allowed him to beat blockers to the spot. Against Ohio State, he blew up a play because he beat the pulling guard, leaving Hyde to block him several yards deep on a quarterback run around the end. Another defender made the tackle; Borland made the play. He was good at avoiding blockers and was a solid pass-rusher with a spin move on the outside and showing good hands against slower linemen inside. Borland showed good balance when teams tried to cut-block him. He was fine in zone coverage. He'd be an excellent leader (eventually) and a guy who would provide a physical mindset inside.

What I didn't like: Though he's more athletic than given credit for, he was not as good when the game was played more in space. I did not see him covering tight ends one-on-one, but would anticipate that being an issue in the NFL. He's not fast (4.83 in the 40-yard dash) and lacks ideal size (5-foot-11 ½, 248 pounds), though so did the guy he'd replace in London Fletcher. Borland struggled to disengage blockers – his arms are considered short -- opting more to avoid them. He didn't finish as well against more athletic players, missing tackles at feet or failing to react well when the player would make a move. I'd worry about him against a team like, say, Philadelphia in particular.

Where he's projected: Second round. The question is, would Borland be better as a 4-3 middle linebacker? ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay thinks so because he'd be more protected. I agree; he did not show great ability to take on blocks and that will be an issue in the NFL. But his productivity was so high -- as are his intangibles -- that teams will take a long look at him; there's also a drop-off after Borland. In the right system, Borland could do rather well.

Other players examined:

Morgan Moses
Demarcus Lawrence

Eyeing the draft: Demarcus Lawrence

April, 23, 2014
Apr 23
4:00
PM ET
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.
The list of defensive players who have visited, or will visit, the Redskins is notable because of the position a few of them play: outside linebacker. Yes, the Redskins have two starters and two backups. But Brian Orakpo and Rob Jackson are on one-year deals (barring a long-term deal for Orakpo). And pass-rushers always are at a premium, so this makes sense. The safeties they've hosted project to later-round picks, which makes sense if they're looking for a guy they can develop so they can take another position earlier.

The Washington Redskins can host up to 30 players before the draft, though sometimes they'll end up drafting only a couple of players who actually visit. And we don't really know what visits mean for this regime: How many of these players will they ultimately select? Some teams draft maybe one or two players that they actually hosted.

It's also true that in some cases the Redskins might not want to draft certain players, but would bring them in because they want a book on them for the future -- in case they get cut or become free agents down the road.

Anyway, take the visits for what they're worth but the positions they're looking at are noteworthy. These are players who either have visited, will visit or have talked to them about visiting. I've used reports from the Washington Post, myself, ESPN980, SiriusXM radio and 106.7. I also used some info from draft analysts for ESPN.com, CBSSports.com and NFL.com. And in finishing this item, I came across a similar format on a site called Pro Player Insiders.

Here's a look at the defensive players (and here's the offense):

FS Tre Boston, North Carolina

Projection: Late rounds

Comment: Former corner turned safety has good ball skills, but analysts questioned his instincts and consistency. He’s considered a raw project.

How he’d fit: Special-teamer who could possibly be groomed, by Ryan Clark and also coach Raheem Morris.

DE/OLB Kyle Van Noy, BYU

Projection: Second round

Comment: Maybe he sneaks into the first, but my guess is he’ll be available at 34 -- some have him lasting until late in the second and possibly the third. Have heard that the Redskins like him, but you can like a lot of players this time of year. He had 17.5 tackles for a loss last season. Analysts like his explosiveness off the ball, but do question his strength and, therefore, his ability to play the run. (ADDED: His strength is his versatility as Van Noy played all over and there's a chance he could play inside in a 3-4).

How he’d fit: If the Redskins drafted him, he’d be viewed as Brian Orakpo’s eventual replacement at outside linebacker, assuming he does not return after this season. That is, unless the Redskins like Van Noy better inside.

DE/OLB Demarcus Lawrence, Boise State

Projection: Second round

Comment: Another pass-rusher type, which suggests they at least wonder about Orakpo’s future in Washington. Of course, this is also just due diligence and pass-rushers are always on the list to examine. Lawrence made a lot of plays behind the line of scrimmage and has excellent pass-rush skills. But the concern is his ability to play the run.

How he’d fit: Like Van Noy, he’d be viewed as a future replacement for Orakpo. But for this season he’d be pass-rush help.

DE/OLB Jeremiah Attaochu, Georgia Tech

Projection: Second round


Comment: He played at Carroll High School in Washington, D.C. Another pass-rushing outside linebacker. Obviously he was a good pass-rusher in college -- 22.5 sacks his last two years combined -- and has experience in both 4-3 and 3-4 schemes. That versatility helps. The knock on him is that he’s still learning all aspects of the position, especially the run.

How he’d fit: Another potential Orakpo replacement. Because he has a lot to learn, he’d be a pass-rusher this season while learning the other aspects of the position.

DE/OLB Marcus Smith, Louisville

Projection: Second, third round

Comment: He played all over for Louisville, so he’d offer versatility. Either that or he’d be a player without a full-time place to play. He does not have elite skills, but he does have long arms (always good for a rusher) and he is physical (again, always good).

How he’d fit: Yet another in the line of “potential Orakpo replacements." Or he’d just be a guy who could help in various ways, regardless of Orakpo.

S Dezmen Southward, Wisconsin

Projection: Possible fourth

Comment: Has good size (6-feet, 211 pounds) and ran a 4.38 in the 40 at his pro day. So speed clearly is a strength. Was not a playmaker in college, but was versatile as he covered slot receivers on occasion.

How he’d fit: Another guy to groom. He’d be worthwhile because he has some skills and a year with Clark and Morris would benefit him. Would he be an eventual starter? No idea. But he can play special teams and that’s a must for a young safety not starting.

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