View Full Version : All about upside for FSU backer

03-19-2007, 10:45 AM
by Jim Wexell
Posted March 18, 2007

The Draft Series moves deep into Linebacker Week when we preview the pro days of Patrick Willis and Paul Posluzny. But first we step back to last Thursday's pro day at Florida State, where Lawrence Timmons performed for Steelers coach Mike Tomlin.

The future looked so promising for Lawrence Timmons when he announced he's turn pro after only three years at Florida State.

But at the combine, the outside linebacker, listed at 6-foot-3, 230, measured only 6-0 7/8 and weighed 234 pounds. Apparently, lining up next to short and stubby Buster Davis only makes one appear tall and thin.

Timmons also ran a 4.66 40 at the combine, which didn't land him a spot in the top 10 linebackers. He also missed the top 10 on the bench (25 reps), in the short shuttle (4.32 seconds), and in the vertical jump (35 inches). He was ninth in the long shuttle (11.78), fifth in the 3-cone (6.89), and third in the broad jump (10-3).

To Timmons's credit, he had the best 10-yard dash time (1.50) of all linebackers, and perhaps that explosiveness is one of the reasons Steelers coach Mike Tomlin showed up at his pro day workout last Thursday. But there again, Timmons, disappointed.

He ran the 40 in 4.63 and then in 4.66. According to the Orlando Sentinel, Timmons "was obviously struggling to catch his breath in between repetitions, prompting an interesting post-workout exchange. Timmons agent, Drew Rosenhaus assured new Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin that Timmons would "be in shape by mini-camp."

Rosenhaus spoke to Tomlin because he was the only head coach at the workout, according to the Tallahassee Democrat. But Tomlin downplayed the poor workout by telling the paper, "Sometimes people get enamored with workouts and things of that nature. The No. 1 thing is the tape. And his tape sticks out a lot."

Funny that would be the case, because Timmons, in 13 starts at Florida State, had only five sacks and two quarterback pressures. But he did show signs of becoming a play-making linebacker. Timmons led Florida State with 18 tackles-for-loss and scored three touchdowns--a 37-yard fumble return, a 22-yard interception return, and a 25-yard return of a blocked punt.

And Timmons is young. He sat his first two years at FSU behind Ernie Sims and last season was his only as a starter. Timmons won't turn 21 until May 14, making him a mere 11 months older than Louisville DT Amobi Okoye who's quite the rage because of his age.

The word on Timmons is "upside" and it's a word the Steelers director of football operations Kevin Colbert uses often on draft weekend. Colbert was at the Florida State pro day, and he let his interest in Timmons be known at the combine, where the Steelers were one of four teams to formally interview him.

"The 49ers, Cowboys, Steelers, Packers, " Timmons said at Indianapolis.

Of course the 49ers are interested. They're mirroring the Steelers these days. They're using a 3-4 defense, are taking a long look at defensive end Adam Carriker, and now Timmons. (The 49ers were also elated to match the clean Rooney-negotiated contract written up for RFA punter Andy Lee, but that's another story.)

The Patriots also brought Timmons in for a visit last Friday, and the Dolphins' G.M. was also present at his pro day. Of the six teams known to be showing interest in Timmons, five use a base 3-4 alignment. Those teams must've liked what they saw from Timmons in the Florida State 3-4.

"In our 3-4 at FSU, I played the Will and Sam, so I played both outsides," Timmons said. "We ran the 3-4 like 25 percent of the time."

Timmons was asked which defense he prefers, the 3-4 or the 4-3.

"I'd say 3-4 because I rush off the end," he said. "But coverage is everything at FSU. We drop just as much as anybody. I've been doing it since I've been there."

Perhaps that's the reason for Timmons paltry pass-rush numbers, but there's really no explanation for his mediocre offseason. Yet, the Steelers see a young guy with upside who has a quick first few steps but perhaps lacks the confidence required to dominate the way a 15th pick in the draft should.

Is it all about the "upside"? And should a team gamble on it in the top half of the first round?

Maybe. But Timmons appears to be just another in a growing pool of players at whom the Steelers will look after trading down.

It does seem to me that a large number of the prospects that the Steelers are interested in could be had in the back half of the draft and are not worthy of a top half pick. Spencer is another one of these. I won't be shocked if the Steelers move down on draft day. I guess it will all depend on how far down some of the studs slip as to whether we deal to move up or down. :yesnod: