Name: Shawn Lemon
Weight: 250 pounds
We’re going to continue our Canadian Football League trend by reporting on the most notable CFL addition, linebacker, Shawn Lemon.
Lemon comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers after a breakout year in the CFL, playing for the Calgary Stampeders.
At Akron, Lemon was a three year starter for the Zips, registering 102 tackles, 23 for losses, 11 sacks and six forced fumbles. During his senior season, he was an All-MAC First team selection leading the team with seven sacks and four fumble recoveries. Lemon did not receive an invite to the NFL scouting combine. He did not make any NFL teams and decided to try out the CFL.
In his first stint with the CFL, Lemon struggled to stay in the league, being cut by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the Saskachewan Roughriders in early 2012. Afterwards, he left the CFL, bouncing around the Arena League and the Indoor Football League during mid-2012, before returning to the CFL with the Edmonton Eskimos. With the Eskimos, Lemon had 16 tackles and six sacks. He was released the next season.
Finally on June 2, 2013, Lemon found a home with the Stampeders. In his first season, Lemon recorded 18 tackles and three sacks in six games despite an injury-plagued season where he missed 12 games. After battling back from injury, 2014 was a breakout year for Lemon. In 2014 Lemon had 38 tackles, eight forced fumbles, one interception and 13 sacks (4th in the CFL).
What Does The Tape Say?
Lemon shows a quick first-step when rushing the passer. Strong against big offensive tackles on the outside. He uses his hands well in the pass rush. Shows good vision and awareness when rushing the quarterback. Average against the run. Stays low against the run and in the pass rush. Good wrap-up tackler. Excellent at jarring the ball loose. Able to knock passes down. Can intercept passes. Very limited tape on his coverage abilities. Good blocker on special teams. Natural pass rusher.
The concerns with Lemon are pretty simple.
- Has never played against NFL competition.
- No evidence of his coverage abilities.
- Seems like a finished product at 26 years old.
Truthfully, this was a tough evaluation. In a practical sense, he has all the abilities of a natural pass-rusher. However, there’s no evidence that he can actually play coverage or handle the offensive tackles in the NFL. Despite this, there’s one thing that he has going for him, dominance. Watching the tape, it’s clear that he is just a lot better than the competition he’s playing against. If he can prove he has some ability in coverage and can beat the big pro offensive tackles of the NFL, there’s a chance he can make the team in a limited pass-rush primary role at linebacker, similar to what the Steelers thought former linebacker, Chris Carter could be.
He’s definitely worth a 90 man spot and if he doesn’t make the team, hopefully, a practice-squad spot is offered. Whatever the case, he has the numbers and passes the eye test, now we’ll just have to see if he can transition to the speed of the NFL game.