ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 01: Corey Lemonier #55 of the Auburn Tigers tackles Charone Peake #19 of the Clemson Tigers at Georgia Dome on September 1, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Auburn defensive end Corey Lemonier had a breakout 2011 season with 13.5 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks before recording only 5.5 sacks as a junior in 2012. The 6-3, 255-pound defensive end tore up the 2013 Scouting Combine with a 4.60 40-yard dash and 27 reps on the bench press.
Lemonier is quick off of the edge, routinely beating offensive tackles. He has a great first step and uses it to his advantage in both the passing and running games. As a rusher, Lemonier was rarely forced to use any moves other than his speed rush. He’ll need to work to develop counter-moves in the NFL. In the running game, Lemonier uses his explosiveness off of the line to drive blockers into the backfield. Combined with his raw strength, Lemonier is very stout at the point. As a run defender, Lemonier plays like he’s 280 pounds.
Lemonier can be undisciplined at times, overrunning plays or failing to break down in space. His motor is outstanding, but Lemonier needs to learn to play with more control. When he’s engaged with a blocker, Lemonier can have some trouble getting free. The biggest question mark surrounding Lemonier right now is simply consistency. He was outstanding in 2011, but he posted just one half of a sack in Auburn’s final eight games in 2012.
It’s also worth noting that Lemonier is only 6-3. I researched the effectiveness of defensive ends drafted over the last decade based on their height, and those at 6-4 or taller have produced at four times the rate as those 6-3 or shorter. I don’t think Lemonier’s height will hurt him, however. First of all, he’s right near the “cutoff” point for increased production. Second, his arms are unusually long for his body at 34 ½ inches—longer than many players who are 6-5 and even 6-6—so the pitfalls of being “short” shouldn’t hurt him.
NFL Comparison: Chris Clemons
At the exact same measurements, both Clemons and Lemonier are slightly-undersized rushers capable of playing with both speed and power.
Lemonier was probably looking at the third or fourth round prior to the Combine. It’s unclear if his impressive day will raise his draft stock into the second, but the third still seems more likely for a player who tailed off during the 2012 season. I’d give Lemonier a late second-round grade simply because he has an elite first step and long arms.
Fit In Dallas
With Anthony Spencer’s franchise tag, the Cowboys likely won’t consider a pass-rusher until the middle rounds at the earliest. If Lemonier drops to the third round, he might be an option, especially since he plays the run better than you’d think for someone his size. He actually reminds me a lot of Spencer in that way.
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Jonathan Bales is the founder of The DC Times. He writes for DallasCowboys.com and the New York Times. He's also the author of Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft.