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Cobras Select Lawson With Fourth Pick In AFL Disperal Draft

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The Carolina Cobras used their firstround pick (fourth overall) in the 2002 Arena Football League dispersaldraft to select defensive specialist Clarence Lawson from the FloridaBobcats.

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

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

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

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

Blum, a natural center, played in nine games as a rookie last season for thePredators and totaled three tackles on defense. Prior to his arrival inOrlando, he played the 2000 season with Cobras head coach Mike Neu inarenafootball2 (af2) with the Augusta Stallions. He played in all 18 of theStallions' games that season and did not allow a sack.

McCall spent the last two seasons with Orlando, where he won an ArenaBowlchampionship with the Predators in 2000. He played in four games in 2001and notched three tackles and three quarterback hurries. McCall took theleague 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/defensiveline that finished fourth in the league in sacks (20) and tied for second inthe AFL in sacks allowed (9) in 2001.

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

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

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