The Detroit Lions went against their own defensive philosophy by selecting undersized cornerback Nevin Lawson from Utah State with their first pick in the fourth round of the NFL draft Saturday.
The Lions have tried to get bigger on defense, and Lawson checks in at just 5-feet-9 and 190 pounds.
But what he lacks in size he's supposed to make up in toughness, at least by reputation. He is considered a physical defender and started two games as a true freshman and then 39 straight games for Utah State.
"I mean, my height never bothered me," Lawson said in a conference call with Detroit reporters. "It's not how big you are. It's how big you play."
The Lions have several cornerbacks on the roster, including four players they drafted in the past two years and injured starter Chris Houston. The Lions have been due for an upgrade at the position, and it will be a big question as to whether Lawson can grow into a starter or major contributor for the Lions.
What Lawson does bring is versatility and swiftness. He has played inside and out and said he feels comfortable in any scheme.
"I like to do everything. I feel like I can do everything," he said. "I feel like I can do blitz, I feel like I can do tackle, I could play off (man coverage), I could play press, I could play zone. Whatever I'm asked to do, I think I could do as a corner. I want to be a complete corner."
Lawson said his best game as a senior came Southern Cal, when he was matched up often against the Trojans' top receiver, Marqise Lee. Lawson had seven total tackles and helped keep Lee in check with six catches for 72 yards and no touchdowns in USC's 17-14 win.
When he was a 17-year-old high school student in Florida, Lawson was charged with burglary. But he has not had any reported incidents since then and said he has matured.
"Just becoming a man," he said, "just being able to understand what happened and decisions that I have to make."
(c)2014 Detroit Free Press
Visit the Detroit Free Press at www.freep.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services