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Cobras Select Lawson With Fourth Pick In AFL Disperal Draft

Posted December 11, 2001

— The Carolina Cobras used their first round pick (fourth overall) in the 2002 Arena Football League dispersal draft to select defensive specialist Clarence Lawson from the Florida Bobcats.

Each of the AFL's 16 teams selected from the rosters of four contracted teams (Houston ThunderBears, Florida Bobcats, Milwaukee Mustangs and Oklahoma Wranglers).

Carolina, who also had the fifth, 20th and 21st selections, traded the fifth pick to the Orlando Predators for linemen A.J. Blum and Jon McCall. The Cobras used their second round selection (20th overall) to select wide receiver/defensive back Nick Ward and traded their 21st overall pick to the Arizona Rattlers to fulfill future considerations for quarterback Lance Funderburk (traded to Carolina from Arizona for future considerations on January 24, 2001). Carolina had two other picks in the draft (No. 69 and No. 85) but opted to pass on the selections.

Lawson (5-8, 180, Utah), a three-year starter for the Florida, joined the Bobcats as a rookie in 1999 and has led the team in tackles each of the past three seasons. Last year he finished with 86 tackles, good for sixth in the league. He also returned 45 kicks for 956 yards (21.2), including an AFL record tying 58-yarder for a touchdown versus Tampa Bay.

Blum (6-2, 300, Ashland) and McCall (6-3, 290, Central Michigan) both come to the Cobras from the Orlando Predators, where they helped anchor a defensive line that totaled 23 sacks (2nd most in the league) in 2001, while allowing just 12 sacks on offense.

Blum, a natural center, played in nine games as a rookie last season for the Predators and totaled three tackles on defense. Prior to his arrival in Orlando, he played the 2000 season with Cobras head coach Mike Neu in arenafootball2 (af2) with the Augusta Stallions. He played in all 18 of the Stallions' games that season and did not allow a sack.

McCall spent the last two seasons with Orlando, where he won an ArenaBowl championship with the Predators in 2000. He played in four games in 2001 and notched three tackles and three quarterback hurries. McCall took the league by storm as a rookie in 2000, totaling 4.5 sacks in just seven games. The addition of Blum and McCall should add depth to an offensive/defensive line that finished fourth in the league in sacks (20) and tied for second in the AFL in sacks allowed (9) in 2001.

Ward (5-11, 180, Miami-Fla) is a promising young player who played in 12 games as a rookie for the Bobcats in 2001. A former defensive back for the University of Miami Hurricanes, Ward totaled 35 tackles with nine pass break ups and an interception on defense. He also chipped in with nine receptions for 82 yards as a wide receiver on offense.

The Cobras may sign up to 40 players to the off-season roster and take 30 to training camp, which begins on March 24, 2002.

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