Position: Defensive End
College: North Carolina State
Official 40-Yard Dash Time At Combine: 4.41 seconds
Official Vertical Jump At Combine: 40.0 inches
One of the players who helped himself the most at last month's NFL Scouting Combine was NC State defensive end Manny Lawson. Lawson measured in at 6'5 and 241 pounds, heavier than most scouts believed, and ran a blistering 4.41 40-yard dash while starring in agility drills.
"Athletically, Manny is a first-rounder," an NFL Scout told Pack Pride. "I think he has a chance to go late in the first. It's just a question of who is picking at the end of the round.
"I think a 3-4 team would place a much higher value on him than a 4-3 team. I think he could function in either scheme, but he would just fit better in 3-4 defense."
NFL teams have various defensive schemes, but the two basic formations are the standard 4-3 defense, with two defensive ends, two defensive tackles, and three linebackers, and the 3-4 defense that has a nose guard, two defensive ends, and four linebackers. With Lawson's height, blazing speed, and outstanding agility, most scouts figure he would flourish in the 3-4 system where he could rush the passer or roam in coverage.
"I think there is some question about what position he can play in the league, but regardless, he is going to be good.
"His best fit is going to be as a 3-4 outside linebacker, because his best asset is his speed. Lawson can run all day, but its not just long speed, he has an explosive burst to close on the quarterback as a pass rusher.
Comparisons are often made between prospects and current NFL players each year as the draft approaches. Lawson has frequently been compared to Dallas Cowboy defensive end DeMarcus Ware. Like Lawson, Ware also had a breakout combine performance, as his showing in 2005 cemented his status as a top-15 pick, with Dallas selecting him No. 11 overall.
Ware starred in his rookie season, registering eight sacks to lead the Cowboys.
"I don't know if I've ever seen a player like Lawson, but I think he might be able to do the same things DeMarcus Ware could do, who came out last year and started all year for Dallas, but even they have some big differences."
Expect the Atlanta Falcons, Philadelphia Eagles, and New England Patriots to consider Lawson with their first-round pick. Another team to look out for is the Dallas Cowboys, who might be looking to pair Lawson with Ware to form a dynamite duo at outside linebacker.
Position: Defensive Tackle
College: North Carolina State
Official 40-Yard Dash Time At Combine: 5.11 seconds
John McCargo surprised some folks when he announced he was entering the NFL Draft after missing the final five regular season games with a broken foot.
He didn't test as well as expected at the combine, but he will have a chance to improve on his times at NC State's Pro Day.
"McCargo is an active guy with good quickness and a great feel for the game. He didn't test well at the combine, and I think in part it was because he gained a lot of weight.
"It's not like he ran really slow, just slower than expected or ideal. If he gets his 40 down on pro day he'll go higher, but as a player he is a solid, disruptive guy."
Regardless of his slow time at the combine, McCargo still projects as a second or third-round pick because of what he can do on the field.
"I think he's a second or third-round guy. Right now he's probably closer to three. Us scouts start forgetting about how they play sometimes, and just focus on the numbers, when in reality for a defensive tackle it shouldn't matter that much. He can play."
McCargo's presence was felt early and often at NC State. He started as a redshirt freshman and for three years he was a disruptive force in the interior of NC State's talented defensive line. With Manny Lawson and Mario Williams receiving a lot of praise, most opposing coaches would point out how impressed they were with McCargo's explosiveness and ability to create havoc in the backfield.
Scheme-wise, expect him to be selected by a team that is looking for a quick, pass-rushing defensive tackle.
"I think he could function in any system, but ideally he would play for a team that used quicker, gap shooting defensive tackles rather than guys who are just in there to eat up blockers and keep blockers off the linebackers."
Did McCargo make a bad decision by leaving early and entering the draft?
"He probably would have benefitted by staying, but either way he is going to make good money. He just may have been able to make a little more if he stayed in school.
"With another big year McCargo may have been able to push himself into the late 1st round."
As it stands now, expect McCargo to be a first-day selection.