Position: Outside linebacker School: Auburn Measurements: 6-foot-3, 255 pounds 40 time: 4.60 seconds. 225-pound bench press: 27 repetitions 2012 stats: 5.5 sacks, 5.5 tackles for loss Draft projection: Third round
Lowdown: Lemonier is a rangy college defensive end who projects to the NFL as a 3-4 rush linebacker. He could be attractive to the Buffalo Bills if he’s on the board early in the third round. Lemonier ran an excellent 40-yard dash time at the NFL Scouting Combine. He has long arms and plays a physical style, which makes him the kind of player Pittsburgh is famous for converting into an edge rusher. But it’s a projection. Can he adapt to outside linebacker? He made first-team All-Southeastern Conference as a sophomore, no small feat, after getting 9.5 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss in 2011. His production dropped off during Auburn’s disappointing 3-9 finish last year. Lemonier had just 34 tackles, 5.5 sacks and 5.5 tackles for loss. He had five sacks in the first four games, then managed a half sack the last eight, during the meat of the SEC season. Of course, Auburn didn’t have many pass-rushing chances during losses of 38-0 to Georgia and 49-0 to Alabama. He’s leaving college a year early, a decision he says he made before his sophomore season. At the combine, he weighed in 15 pounds heavier than his junior-season playing weight. He has the power to defend the edge, as his bench-press numbers show. He’s a tad shorter than ideal for a 3-4 outside ‘backer, but his 34.5-inch arms should allow him to compensate.
He said it: Lemonier on Auburn coaches trying to convince him to stay in school: “They tried to convince me like crazy. They came down to Miami and talked to my family and all that. It was pretty hectic and crazy. … I felt ready at the beginning of my sophomore year, I just said I was going to stick to that plan and I did.”
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Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.
Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.
Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.