Richmond DE Lawrence Sidbury has big NFL upside (fantasyfootball.com)
Acutely aware of the Buffalo Bills' need for a boost to its anemic pass rush, we here at Buffalo Rumblings have spent solid chunks of time profiling DE prospects (as well as others) in the months leading up to the draft. Today, our final effort is a look at underrated Richmond DE Lawrence Sidbury, Jr. - and it also happens to be one of the cooler interviews we've ever been able to cobble together here at our tiny blogstablishment.
Thanks to some heavy-duty leg work by Rumblings moderator WABillsfan, we were able to score an interview with Richmond head coach Mike London regarding his star defensive pupil. London and his Spiders are fresh off of a 2008 NCAA Division I-AA Championship, and Sidbury was the star on that championship team. Coach London was very gracious with his time, so we'll cut right to the chase with our Rumblings Scouting Report on Sidbury. We'll start with the basics; London's interview with WA appears after the jump.
Lawrence Sidbury, Jr. - Defensive End, Richmond
6'2", 266 pounds, 4.64-second 40 yard dash
Strengths: One of the better athletes at the DE position this year... Elite measurables with great bulk, long arms and excellent speed... Hustler that pursues well... Versatile, having played in several different capacities at Richmond, including on special teams... Solid college production including an outstanding senior season (20 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks)... Immense potential.
Weaknesses: Short by NFL standards... Is not as aggressive as he should be and can be hesitant at times... Not polished as a pass rusher and lacks moves... Played at a low level of competition and will need time to adjust to the pro game... Needs to get stronger... Needs a lot of polish from a technique standpoint, particularly in terms of getting off of blocks and playing with proper leverage... Bit of a project.
NFL Comparison: Trent Cole, Philadelphia Eagles
Both players are similar is stature; Sidbury is 6'2", 266, while Cole is 6'3", 270 (though at the time of the draft, he weighed only 240). Both men are quick for their size with Sidbury clocking in at 4.64 in the 40 and 2.63 in the twenty yard split; his 20-yard shuttle time was a 4.43. Cole, when he came out five years ago, was clocked at 4.7 in the 40 and a 4.22 in the 20-yard shuttle. Production-wise, Cole had 68 tackles, including 22 for a loss and 8.5 sacks in his senior season at Cincinnati. Sidbury had 56 tackles, including 20 for a loss and 11.5 sacks, last year in Richmond.
Cole, in his first season of NFL ball, had five sacks and 26 tackles. Yes - the five sacks would have led Bills ends last year. Both players are/were being touted as too small to play the position of DE in a 4-3 and might be better looked at as OLB prospects, but that is not strictly true. A good pass rusher is a good pass rusher, and as Lawrence would be a situational rusher for his first season with us, that makes the point moot. Our D needs to get after the QB and Sidbury can do just that.
Much more after the jump, including our aforementioned interview with Richmond head coach Mike London, the vaunted Sidbury highlight video and more opinions on this underrated prospect. We owe a debt of gratitude to Michael DeGeorge, Richmond's Sports Information Director and a self-proclaimed Bills fan, for helping us out with the interview.
WABillsfan: Not many folks in Buffalo are as familiar with Lawrence's game. What do you view as his strengths and weaknesses?
Coach London: Lawrence has his best football ahead of him. He didn't start playing until late in HS. He has had a different position every year in college. When he gets to the pro level there will consistency in his coaching and teaching; that will be a big advantage for him.
WABillsfan: What area(s) of his game might Lawrence need to work on to be an effective every down NFL player?
Coach London: Not many deficiencies based on what he can't do. His best football is ahead of him. Technical aspects as far as hands can and will improve.
WABillsfan: Lawrence was obviously productive in college; his accolades and the team's stats prove that out. But do you attribute any of that production to the level of competition? Do you think that the competition level will hurt his prospects in scouts' eyes come the NFL draft?
Coach London: A football player is a football player. Lawrence dominated his competition, especially in the championship game versus Montana. He practiced and played in all star games versus BCS talent and did well. He ran and tested well at the combine. His skills put him at a level that warrants a close consideration of a top draft pick.
WABillsfan: Lawrence's measurables (height, weight, speed) are very comparative or better than many current NFL DEs such as Aaron Schobel or Trent Cole. Which current NFL player might you compare him to?
Coach London: Those are good comparisons. I know that he can compare to those in college who are projected to be among the top picks. Measurables, performance in big games and every down value is what I think Lawrence brings to the table. [Cardinals RB and Richmond alum] Tim Hightower has proven, as well as dozens of so called FCS (D 1AA) prospects, that ability is a word that has no exclusive owner.
WABillsfan: What is Lawrence like in the locker room? How is his work ethic, his desire, his passion for the game, etc.?
Coach London: Lawrence was voted Captain by the players. He is a leader on and off the field. He is smart, has graduated. Was noted for writing a computer program. He is a solid citizen with great parents. He has great character and would not embarrass his teammates or organization.
WABillsfan: How do you think Lawrence would fit into a Tampa 2 scheme at the NFL level?
Coach London: He would fit well. That system requires you to be able to run. Carry the seams and vertical routes. Lawrence can run and would be more than adequate in carrying out his job responsibilities.
WABillsfan: Where do you feel Lawrence can contribute the most to the team drafting him right away once he is on the team? Does he also play Special Teams?
Coach London: He will definitely bring his run and hit ability to special teams. He was on our punt team. He was on FG/PAT protection. He could run down on kick off and be on the kick off return unit. Big guy - 260 plus pounds that can run. He has first and second down value. He also has third down value which would give him opportunities early in camp.
Does Sidbury "Fit the Bill"?
Without a doubt. With several holes on its roster, the Bills may feel compelled to pass on a DE early in the draft to shore up other positions. If that turns out to be the case, we believe that Sidbury should be near the top of the Bills' wish list beginning as soon as the No. 42 overall pick in the second round. He's got some work to do in the technique departments and will need time to become a better run defender, but big, fast, explosive athletes are hard to come by. Sidbury has elite potential - particularly in a defense that lets him pin his ears back and play at a fast tempo - and that's exactly what he'd be doing in Buffalo. This kid is a perfect fit for a Tampa 2, and with good coaching, he could quickly establish himself as one of the surprise picks of this draft class.