Leaving an Auburn squad that is clearly in a rebuilding phase, Corey Lemonier enters the NFL Draft (according to Joe Schad via Twitter) as one of the more refined and developed pass rushing defensive ends.
Likely to measure just under 6’4 and weigh-in near 250 pounds, Lemonier has an ideal body type to play either defensive end in a four-man front or outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense.
In his first season at Auburn, Lemonier contributed in a backup role and made the SEC All-Freshman team with 5 tackles for loss and 2 sacks. Once promoted to a starting position, the pass rushing specialist broke out in a big way, with 13.5 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks. Such productivity earned Lemonier first team All-SEC honors and a great deal of respect from opposing offenses in 2012.
Faced with protection slid his way, double teams and chip blocks from running backs or tight ends, Lemonier’s production tapered off this past season but NFL scouts won’t overlook his improved skill set. Showcasing better strength at the point of attack and improved hand usage at the point of attack, Lemonier incorporated multiple counter moves to go along with his excellent short quickness and burst.
Lemonier’s speed off the line can be misleading at times, as he’s taught to react to the blocker’s first step, rather than looking inside at the football. When he learns to better anticipate the snap count, Lemonier should improve his already very good, speed rushing skill set. In his rush, Lemonier does an impressive job of bending back inside at the proper angle and forcing the quarterback to climb the pocket to avoid the sack.
Struggling early in his career to stop the run, Lemonier has improved in his ability to set the edge but still has a difficult time remaining active in that phase of the game. Lemonier lacks suddenness when attempting to stack and shed, and ultimately needs to be more forceful at the point to factor more heavily in terms of tackle numbers.
With demand for pass rushers being at a premium and this draft class lacking an elite or even complete player at the position, Lemonier’s second round skill set could be pushed up into the first round. Until Lemonier improves versus the run, he’ll never be viewed as an elite player; however, his pass rushing skill set will certainly make him a valued commodity in NFL circles and top two round selection.