When Day 3 of the NFL Draft commenced with the fourth round on Saturday, former LSU defensive lineman Rashard Lawrence had an inkling that the Arizona Cardinals might use one of their two picks in the round on him. That suspicion stemmed from direct interactions as well as feedback he had received from coaches on the Tigers' staff.
It did not hurt that there was a coach-to-coach connection across the two staffs. Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph and LSU wide receivers coach Mickey Joseph are brothers.
“Mickey put in a big, good word for me and Vance really liked my tape," Lawrence said. "They had a pretty good grade on me, so I knew that with those two picks there was a chance that I’d get taken there. Coach O (Ed Orgeron) and (Director of Athletic Training) Jack Marucci and everybody put in a good word with the whole staff at Arizona. It was a good connection.
"At first I didn’t meet too much with them at the Combine, but I talked to Coach O and he called me up one day and was like, ‘Man, Arizona loves you.’ It kind of surprised me at first because I didn’t have much buzz about Arizona. It makes sense with Mickey Joseph and Vance Joseph, that connection and all the great people on both sides."
Upon reflection, Vance Joseph said the advanced scouting ability added an extra level of comfort to the franchise's decision.
"Coach Orgeron called me personally about Lawrence, so we were tracking him for the whole draft," Vance Joseph said. "He was one of Coach Orgeron's favorite players as a team leader, as a worker, as a technician. And Coach O coaches d-line for a living, so he knows what it looks like."
Lawrence was the second-to-last defensive player drafted by the Cardinals this year, just before California linebacker Evan Weaver was taken in the sixth round. Arizona took two defensive linemen in the fourth round: Lawrence and Utah's Leki Fotu. The two are set to bolster a unit that struggled last season.
Lawrence says he is ready to do so immediately.
“I’m very ready," he said. "I think that being a three-year starter and a three-year captain does mean something, but at the next level you have to be ready to come in no matter where you come from; if you were the No. 1 overall pick or were the last pick in the draft. Wherever you go you have to bring hard work and dedication and film study. To have this chance, I think I’m ready physically from a physical standpoint. I liked my measurables at the Combine compared to some of the other top defensive tackles. The biggest thing that I have to understand is that you’re not going to out-talent anybody anymore; it’s going to be on film study and the little details. I have to treat myself as a pro day-in and day-out and I’m ready to do that.”