Full Name: Manny Lawson
School: North Carolina State
Position: Linebacker/defensive end
Weight: 241 pounds
Year: Fourth-year senior
40-yard dash: 4.48 seconds
Biography: Two-year starter awarded All-Conference honors after his senior and junior campaigns. Had 108 tackles, 31.5 tackles for a loss, 17.5 sacks and three fumble recoveries in that span. Finished his college career with 196 tackles (125 solo), 40 quarterback pressures and 20.5 sacks for 163 yards in losses. Also is fourth in school history with 39.5 tackles for 220 yards in losses. Caused five fumbles, recovered four others and deflected 17 passes. In 2003 and 2004, he ran track for North Carolina State, competing in the hurdles, long jump, triple jump and 400 relay team. A strong special teams player who had three blocked punts as a true freshman and two more as a sophomore, finishing second in school history with seven blocked kicks. A ‘tweener type that some will see as a defensive end in a 4-3 alignment or a linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. The 49ers plan to use him as a four-down player, including special teams. Extremely good speed for a defensive end and has drawn scout comparisons to Jason Taylor of the Dolphins, who became a Pro Bowl defensive end. A good leaper who can bat down passes, Lawson has excellent closing burst for sacks. Brings the versatility of playing both the linebacker spot and DE. Got more than his share of one-on-one matchups because Mario Williams was lined up on the other side. Needs to improve lower-body strength to compete with NFL OTs that will have almost 100 pounds on him Ran a lightning-fast 4.43 40 at the Combine with 23 reps, a 39½ inch vertical jump, a 10-4 broad jump and a Wonderlic score of 28.
Positives: Tremendous athlete who saw his draft stock soar after Senior Bowl week and the NFL Combine. Plays with good pad level, is rarely off his feet and makes plays in every direction of the field. Fast off the edge, terrific in pursuit and runs down ball carriers from the backside. Effectively used in space on zone blitzes. Reads the action and stays with assignments. Hard-hitting and plays with an aggressive style.
Negatives: Undersized out of a three-point stance and can be engulfed by large blockers. Occasionally takes wide angles to avoid linemen altogether. Doesn't have ideal bulk or strength and is viewed of being too skinny.
Analysis: After a terrific senior campaign in 2005, Lawson performed well at the Senior Bowl and Combine. Has the skills to stand up over tackle in a 3-4 defense. A ‘tweener in every sense of the word, he'll have to be a player that fits into San Francisco's defensive scheme with a well-defined role, but he has a tremendous upside for impact potential.
Niners No. 1b pick: Manny Lawson
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