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Today’s Prospect Profile shifts its focus back to one of the more pressing needs on the Giants’ roster heading into April’s Draft: outside linebacker. A four-year starter at the University of Connecticut, Lawrence Wilson was one of the most productive outside linebackers in all of college football the last four seasons. His four-year totals at UConn are excellent: 449 tackles, 35.5 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, five interceptions, and six forced fumbles. He’s a tackling factory.

The rock and the motor of the Huskies defense for the past two seasons, some NFL teams may be turned off when looking at Wilson as he is a bit “undersized” according to scouts; but his production and intensity speak for themselves.

Let’s hit the scouting reports.

Lawrence Wilson makes contact.

Lawrence Wilson
Senior, OLB
6-1, 225

First, from Sideline Scouting:

Positives: Good speed and decent bulk, could add some mass, but looks fairly stout… Excellent production at UConn (449 tackles, 9.5 sacks, five interceptions and six forced fumbles in four years), Big East’s leader tackler in 2009 and 2010 seasons… Consistent production in the tackling game, hit double digits five times in 2010… Pretty good sideline-to-sideline defender, has a lot of quickness and scrapes through traffic well, keeps head on a swivel while pursuing ball carrier… Drives through tackles with a lot of intensity and energy, churns his legs and tackles through the ball carrier… Disciplined player, does a good job fighting through blocks and holding position when maintaining gap responsibilities… Very shifty at the line of scrimmage, can slip through small gaps in the line and appears to be more proficient in traffic than his size would indicate… Is an able read-and-react zone defender, has fluid hips in zone coverage and does well with reading the quarterback’s eyes… Durability has never been an issue, no major injury concerns… Has the potential to be very productive in the NFL, upside limited, but could reach 100 tackles in the right system because of his outstanding motor.

Negatives: Could stand to add 10-15 pounds without losing too much speed or quickness, is slightly thinner than ideal size… Has not been used as much of a pass rusher, has the ability to shoot gaps well, but does not have much experience in that area… Can sometimes take bad pursuit angles when away from the play… Can play out of control at times, which leaves him susceptible misdirection plays and tackling problems in space… Is not a heavy hitter and may have difficulty driving back bigger players at the next level… Tends to rely on quickness to evade blockers but sometimes uses poor hand technique when getting blocked in close quarters.

From National Football Post:

An undersized outside linebacker with a slight frame and thin lower half. However, exhibits impressive sideline-to-sideline range and showcases natural fluidity in his hips when asked to side step blocks and close on the football. Displays good awareness inside the box and knows how to keep himself clean and work his way through traffic. Is a surprisingly strong, wrap-up tackler in pursuit who generates a good jolt from his lower half, really exploding through the hips and will finish with his legs. But, he will overrun plays at times and doesn’t consistently break down as well in space. Lacks ideal power when asked to take on blocks inside and looks content to simply throw his shoulder into blocks, rarely extending his arms and disengaging initially on contact.

Demonstrates loose hips and natural change-of-direction skills in coverage. Does a nice job keeping his feet under and base down and can really generate a burst when asked to click and close underneath. Looks comfortable in man and demonstrates the fluidity to turn and run down the field with tight ends. However, too often he gets caught trying to sit on routes and will lose track of his responsibility down the field. Is a lot more instinctive in zone, keeping his head on a swivel and can quickly diagnose plays and close on the football.

Impression: A gifted athlete for the position with natural range and body control in both the pass and run game. But he is scheme-limited at the next level and will be considered a nickel backer by most NFL teams. However, he could start for a team like the Colts that value athleticism over size.

Projected after bowl season as a mid-round pick, Wilson increased his draft stock with a six-tackle performance at the Senior Bowl in his home state of Alabama. He’s one of the most athletic linebackers in this year’s class, and with his tremendous instincts and motor he seems to be around the football on every play. Wilson has led the Big East in tackles for the past two years, and was named to the All-Big East first team in 2010 – also for the second straight year. With his stock on the rise already – the Combine and UConn’s pro day still to come – I can see Wilson being selected somewhere in the third or fourth round.