(Editor’s Note: Heading into the upcoming NFL Draft, held May 8-10, DallasCowboys.com will take a closer look at the prospects, including some that could be potential fits with the Cowboys. Today’s featured player is Boise State defensive end Demarcus Lawrence).
Name: Demarcus Lawrence
Position: Defensive End
College: Boise State
Honors: Lawrence was named first-team All-Mountain West during both of his seasons as a starter for Boise State. He was named second-team All-America and first-team All-Jayhawk Conference during one season as a starter for Butler Community College.
Key stat: The impetus for Lawrence’s decision to enter the draft was probably the fact that he lived in the opposing backfield last fall. He finished the 2013 season with 10.5 sacks and 20.5 tackles for loss for the Broncos.
Where He’s Projected: It shouldn’t be a surprise by now – Lawrence is yet another pass rush prospect who is considered a tweener. How you rank his prospects probably depends on whether you consider him a 3-4 outside linebacker or a 4-3 defensive end. He’s certainly a bit undersized to play as a down lineman, weighing in at just about 250 pounds, which may affect his draft stock. Most projections list him somewhere in the second or third round.
How He Helps the Cowboys: Add Lawrence to the long list of pass rush prospects on the Cowboys’ radar. He would have to bulk up to join the defensive line rotation, but he could bring valuable depth to the defensive end spot. Lawrence probably isn’t rated as highly as other defensive end prospects we’ve profiled in this series, but the key is his availability. Top pass rushers like Jadeveon Clowney and Anthony Barr don’t figure to be in the Cowboys’ pick range at No. 16 overall, but Lawrence could potentially be had with their No. 47 or perhaps even their No. 78 pick. It’s doubtful he’d be a Day 1 starter, but he could blossom into a valuable pass rusher.
Scout’s Take: Is an early-out junior. Shows some initial quickness, especially with his quick arm-over move. When he gets double teamed, he has trouble when he needs to disengage from a block. Can avoid the low block and plays with his hands.
He can retrace his steps when he is working up the field. Will work to the edges, shows a burst to get around the corner and chase the ball. Lawrence can get low to the ground to run around the corner – impressively, he’s aware of his assignment on the read option. He’ll fight to work down the line of scrimmage.
One of the places Lawrence has problems is when he gets stopped, he needs to do a better job of restarting his rush. He’s got balance to chase the ball and he bounces off blockers. At times he will play as a standup linebacker, and he shows some initial pop.
He really excels at avoiding the block, and he bursts to the ball. He’s got some power to shove tackle out of way to shed. Will try and spin to free himself. He’s quick off the ground and can rally to the play.
Despite his smaller size, he can leverage the tackle – he will fire his hands inside. He has some strength when he tackles. Has some surprising strength to play at point of attack.
It’s obvious Lawrence improved as the season wore on, and I think he would be a strong consideration in the third round.