Scout's Take: Recap

An anonymous National Football League scout took time out of his busy schedule to field questions from Pack Pride about those Wolfpack players who could be selected in the upcoming NFL Draft. Here are his thoughts on Mario Williams, Manny Lawson, John McCargo and much more!

Mario Williams Background
Defensive End
College: North Carolina State
Height: 6-foot-7
Weight: 295
Official 40-Yard Dash Time At Combine: 4.66 seconds
Official Vertical Jump At Combine: 40.5 inches

Mario Williams didn't have to participate at the recent NFL Scouting Combine, as he was already considered a lock to be selected in the top five of the draft. However, his performance at the combine has not only improved his stock but places him among the top two or three prospects in the draft.

"Mario has shown that he is a freakish athlete for his size," an NFL scout told Pack Pride. "He shouldn't be able to do what he can for how big he is.

"On the field he has the strength, speed, and the athleticism to be a force as a pass rusher and against the run. He needs to develop one or two more pass rush moves, and learn to play every play hard every down, but he is big-time.

"I think he'd be a top five pick if he hadn't done anything at the combine too though, but he definitely helped himself."

Entering the combine, most analysts considered USC tailback Reggie Bush and quarterback Matt Leinart, Texas quarterback Vince Young, and Virginia lineman D'Brickashaw Ferguson the top four players in the draft. However, Williams is now receiving mention with those talented prospects.

Williams' Stock Soared At NFL Combine

"If there wasnt such a premium on quarterbacks, he'd be in the top two with Bush, and it is a lot harder to find a blue chip defensive end than a blue chip running back. Ability-wise, I think he is better than any of the quarterbacks, [but] Leinart and Young were more productive."

Williams is often compared to current Carolina Panther defensive end Julius Peppers, who is also a North Carolina native.

"I think you can compare the two. Peppers is a pretty good pro, but I think he is a little overrated. Peppers just takes too many plays off now that he is in the league. I don't know how he was in college, but I think Williams can be better. The sky is the limit for Mario."

"Super Mario" is considered a major priority for teams like Green Bay, San Francisco and Oakland, who own the No. 5, No. 6, and No. 7 picks respectively. The latter two teams could look to jump Green Bay and select Williams, given his recent performance at the combine and productivity at NC State.

"I think there should be some movement up for him. A guy like [Williams] only comes along about once every five or so years."

ESPN NFL analyst John Clayton feels the same way after watching Williams in Indianapolis.

"Defensive end Mario Williams is a little lost in the spotlight of top prospects such as Leinart, Young and Bush, but he shouldn't be," Clayton said in his column. "As much as teams talk about trading up for quarterbacks, what about moving up for Williams? Super Mario made that more likely with his combine workouts.

"Even more impressive, it wasn't necessary for him to work out. Listed at 6-7 and 295 pounds, he ran a 4.66 40. That's Julius Peppers territory. Williams has the dominating body that can fit into a 3-4 or a 4-3. He would seem to be a perfect fit for the Green Bay Packers with the fifth pick, but other teams might try to move higher than that to get him."

Regardless of how he performs at NC State's Pro Day, Mario Williams has solidified his status as one of the top prospects in the 2006 NFL Draft, and potentially he just might be the best.

Manny Lawson
Defensive End
College: North Carolina State
Height: 6-foot-5
Weight: 241
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.

Manny Lawson
"You can see his obvious value to teams that utilize a 3-4 defense, but that's not to say he couldn't play for a 4-3 team. If he is going to play as a traditional defensive end he is going to have to get stronger to play the run at the point of attack, but he can do it."

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.

John McCargo
Defensive Tackle
College: North Carolina State
Height: 6-foot-1.4
Weight: 302
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."

John McCargo

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.

Marcus Hudson
Defensive Back
College: North Carolina State
Height: 6-foot-1.1
Weight: 194
Official 40-Yard Dash Time At Combine: Did Not Run

Unlike several other Wolfpack players, Marcus Hudson was unable to participate at the NFL Scouting Combine, as he was still recovering from an ankle injury suffered at the Senior Bowl. However, he still remains on the radar of several NFL teams.

"Marcus Hudson is a good player," an NFL Scout told Pack Pride. "He's kind of a cornerback/safety tweener, but he can probably function at either in the league.

"I think ideally he would be a safety. Although he didn't run at the combine, he will be fine as long as he runs okay at Pro Day."

Marcus Hudson

Hudson, a four-year starter for the Wolfpack, played both free safety and cornerback during his career. His versatility is intriguing to NFL scouts and should help his draft status.

"He has very good size and is a physical guy who has pretty good awareness in coverage. I think he's in the 3-4 range right now. He will probably be a third or fourth-round pick."

Hudson compares favorably to another NC State player who made his mark in college with his versatility. Like Hudson, Brian Williams played cornerback and safety for the Wolfpack, and now he is one of the top defensive backs in the NFL.

The Minnesota Vikings star has made a good living because of his ability to play both positions, and that is the type of potential Hudson has.

"Hudson is a little bit like Brian Williams who came out of there and plays for the Vikings, but not as fast. He was a guy who can play either position, and both are physical and tough.

"Hudson is taller than Williams, but I think they are similar players and bring a lot to the table."

Hudson is fundamentally sound and has been well-coached while at NC State. He sticks to his man tight in coverage is very physical at the line of scrimmage. He displays a nice, smooth backpedal and transition. He plays with no wasted motion and can come up in run support.

He could be a draft steal for teams looking for a versatile defensive back, as was Williams, a fourth-round pick of the Vikings in 2002.

Stephen Tulloch
Outside Linebacker
College: North Carolina State
Height: 5-foot-10.6
Weight: 241
Official 40-Yard Dash Time At Combine: 4.86 seconds
Official Vertical Jump At Combine: 33.5 inches

Like John McCargo, Stephen Tulloch's decision to enter the draft was somewhat of a surprise. However, it sounds like he may have made a good decision based on what he brings to the table.

"I think McCargo and Morris would have benefited much more by staying than Tulloch. Tulloch is what he is. He has been super productive, and would have been productive again had he stayed, but he isn't going to get any taller, so why not come out?"

Tulloch's combine effort was labeled "disappointing," but he has a chance to improve on his numbers at NC State's Pro Day, which is scheduled for March 22.

Tulloch tackles Vernon Davis
"He's a second day guy right now, unless he gets the 40 time down at Pro Day. We actually value the combine and Pro Day in the same manner. We usually just take the fastest time regardless of where it is at, so he still has a chance to improve his numbers."

Tulloch is never going to be a guy to standout during testing drills, but on the field his productivity and relentless motor is what impresses NFL scouts.

"I like Tulloch a lot, probably more than most teams do actually. He isn't tall, he ran slow at the combine, but he is a really good, instinctive football player."

The comparisons have been made before, but it goes without saying that Tulloch's attributes and productivity will be compared to Miami Dolphin star linebacker Zach Thomas.

Like Tulloch, Thomas entered the draft as an undersized linebacker who produced in college, starring for the Texas Tech Red Raiders. A fifth-round pick, Thomas is now considered one of the top linebackers in the National Football League, despite being just 5-foot-11 and 228-pounds.

"I would compare him to Zach Thomas in terms of style of play. He just sees things so quickly that he is able to get into position and make up for his lack of size."

T.J. Williams
Tight End
College: North Carolina State
Height: 6-foot-2.3
Weight: 259
Official 40-Yard Dash Time At Combine: 4.73 seconds

Talk about bad timing. T.J. Williams will go down as one of, if not the, best tight ends to ever play at NC State, as for two seasons he led the Wolfpack in receptions, yet he's often overlooked because of how loaded this year's draft is with tight ends.

T.J. Williams

Featuring phenoms such as Vernon Davis, Anthony Fasano, Dominique Byrd, and Leonard Pope, this is considered the best tight end class ever, and because of it Williams probably won't be drafted as high as he would in most years. However, he is still a good player with the potential to have a productive NFL career.

"I think he is going to be a good player. He can do a little bit of everything. He can catch, and he can stretch the seam. He is not a dominating blocker, but he is effective."

Expect Williams to be selected in the early stages of the second day.

"I would say he will go somewhere between rounds three and five. In my opinion, probably closer to round three. The concerns with him are he lacks ideal height and he didn't time too well at the combine. He's kind of mechanical in his routes, but that can be fixed.

"I don't remember exactly how many catches he had this year for NC State, but everyone knows of the quarterback trouble in Raleigh."

Teams expressing interest in Williams include the San Diego Chargers, who scouted him closely during the Senior Bowl practices, and the Carolina Panthers.

Derek Morris
Right Tackle
College: North Carolina State
Height: 6-foot-7
Weight: 320
Official 40-Yard Dash Time At Combine:Non-invitee

John McCargo and Stephen Tulloch were not the only NC State players to declare early for the NFL, as junior right tackle Derek Morris also entered his name in the draft.

Morris, who has been labeled an underachiever by most after arriving at NC State as arguably the top offensive lineman in his prep class, wasn't invited to the NFL Scouting Combine and likely projects as an undrafted free agent.

"I think Morris is a 7th round pick or a free agent," one NFL scout told Pack Pride. "He is a big guy with the size and strength to be effective, but there are concerns with him character-wise and his maturity.

"Who knows, he may go higher than I said, because sometimes it's tough to tell where juniors who aren't invited to the combine will go."

Derek Morris

Morris also is limited by his inability to play other positions along the offensive line and that could negatively impact his draft status.

"Morris is a right tackle only, and he needs to work on his foot quickness. It doesn't hurt him a whole lot that he can only play right tackle, but later in the draft a lot of teams are looking for versatility."

Did Morris make a bad decision by leaving early and entering the draft? "I think Morris could have benefited from another year developing in college because that is likely what his 1st year or two in the NFL will be given his current draft projection."

Despite the questions surrounding Morris, he still has some upside and a chance to be a "solid player" down the road.

"I kind of liked him on the film we watched, but a lot of others in the draft room did not. I think he has a chance to develop into a pretty solid player if he wants to work hard. That is the question with him."

Oliver Hoyte
Middle Linebacker
College: North Carolina State
Height: 6-foot-2.5
Weight: 245
Official 40-Yard Dash Time At Combine: 5.01 seconds
Official Vertical Jump At Combine: 32 inches

Oliver Hoyte was one of the most productive linebackers in the Atlantic Coast Conference, but he has a steep hill to climb when it comes to making it in the National Football League.

"Like Morris, Hoyte is going to be a 7th rounder or undrafted free agent. He is kind of a throwback type of player, like an old school middle linebacker type and that limits him. He's not versatile and his lack of speed is his big downfall."

Oliver Hoyte

Because of a lack of speed and the range to play in coverage, Hoyte would likely have to land with a team that runs a particular scheme to succeed in the NFL.

"He just doesn't fit most schemes in this day and age. His best fit is probably inside in a 3-4 defense, because he could just play tackle-to-tackle and stay in the box. In that scheme he wouldn't have to man cover a lot."

Hoyte participated at the NFL Scouting Combine and will be looking to post better numbers at NC State's Pro Day, scheduled for March 22. Checking in at 6-foot-2 and 245-pounds, Hoyte ran a disappointing 5.01 40-yard dash.

His shuttle time (4.33) and bench reps (19 reps of 225 pounds) were respectable, but he will need to improve all of those numbers when the scouts can watch him again on the Wolfpack's campus.

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