Draft prospect: Demarcus Ware

Demarcus Ware of Troy State is an interesting prospect that the Green Bay Packers may strongly consider pursuing in the April 23-24 NFL Draft. Ware excelled at defensive end in college, but at 6-foot-3, 247 pounds he probably will be used at strong-side linebacker in the NFL. Since the Packers need help at linebacker and defensive end, Ware is an ideal candidate.<p>

The Packers have shown little interest in re-signing free agent strong-side linebacker Hannibal Navies, who started the last two seasons in Green Bay. New defensive coordinator Jim Bates has been testing Nick Barnett at an outside linebacker position in the team's off-season workouts, as well as middle linebacker where Barnett played the last two seasons. Barnett is more suited to play an outside position because of his speed and quickness. The team's only other outside linebacker is Na'il Diggs, who is entering his sixth season.

Ware is excellent edge rusher with outstanding speed and change-of-direction agility. Ware has been considered the school's finest athlete by the Trojans coaching staff. He was one of the fastest defenders on the 2004 squad and also the strongest (430-pound bench press). He is also blessed with incredible leaping ability.

Here is a closer look at Ware from Scout.com and NFLDraftScout.com:

Ht: 6-4

Wt: 251

40 time: 4.65

Year: 4Sr

High School: Ware only played football for two years at Auburn (Ala.) High School, earning all-area honors as a senior.

Bio: Ware earned All-Sun Belt Conference honors as a junior and senior, adding league Defensive Player of the Year honors while being named a finalist for the Hendricks Award (given to the nation's top defensive end) as a senior. He made 62 tackles (43 solos) with six sacks, 16 stops behind the line of scrimmage, 32 pressures and five forced fumbles in 2003. He capped off his career with 47 tackles (31 solos), 101/2 sacks, 18 stops for losses, 27 pressures and four forced fumbles in 2004.

In 43 games with the Trojans, Ware started 34 times. He collected 195 tackles (126 solos) with 27 1/2 sacks for minus-236 yards, 57 stops for losses of 251 yards and 74 quarterback pressures. Only Charles Pickett (43, 1974-76) had more sacks in a career at Troy than Ware's 271/2. His 57 stops behind the line of scrimmage broke the old school career-record of 40 by Osi Umenyiora (1999-2002). He also recovered four fumbles, caused 10 others and deflected one pass.

Positives: Athletic, play-making defender with great potential for the next level. Keeps his pads low to the ground, fluid changing direction and pursues from the backside with speed. Quick changing direction or altering his angle of attack and possesses the ability to make plays in any direction. Fast off the edge, can flatten and very tough to stop. Doubled by opponents yet stays on his feet and holds his ground. Looked outstanding at the Combine when used at linebacker and was a force during Senior Bowl week.

Negatives: Lacks the quick first step out of a three point stance. Engulfed by larger opponents. Limited experience playing in space. Ware knows how to use his hands to reroute tight ends and backs in the short area, but will bite on play action and eyes the quarterback too long when having to play in zone coverage. He is better suited playing in space and on the move.

Injury report: No injuries reported.

Analysis: A productive collegiate defensive end, Ware has the athleticism and abilities to be used at a variety of positions in the NFL. Perfectly suited to stand up over tackle in a 34 defense and could eventually develop into a solid strong side linebacker. Possesses the physical skills as well as mental abilities to see significant action as a rookie. Rising up draft boards off his performances in the post-season.

Up next: On Wednesday, packerreport.com will take a closer look at Virginia Tech cornerback Eric Green.

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