AUBURN, Ala. — Toward the end of Auburn football’s pro day workouts Friday, Carl Lawson went through a drill led by a former Tiger he’d love to have the career of in the NFL: Kevin Greene.
Greene, the former Auburn linebacker who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame last year, coached Lawson and the rest of the Tigers’ draft-eligible defensive linemen and linebackers through a footwork drill Friday. It wasn’t a new experience for Lawson, who has grown close to the legendary Tiger.
“It’s always fun,” Lawson said. “He’s been a friend of mine for a while, and now he’s a coach. It was really fun. It was a great experience.”
Greene recently took the outside linebackers coaching job with the New York Jets after a few years away from coaching. He held the same role with the Green Bay Packers from 2009 to ’13.
Before Greene returned to coaching, Lawson often talked with the legendary outside linebacker, who recorded 160 sacks in his 15-year NFL career. Greene started his Auburn career as a walk-on but later became the team’s Defensive Player of the Year in 1984.
“He’s given me some tips,” Lawson said. “I’ve texted him during the season before, before he was the Jets coach, and asked him some stuff. He’s always been there for me and always been able to help me.”
While Lawson played defensive end at Auburn, he could play Greene’s old position at the next level.
Depending on what kind of defense an NFL franchise runs — either 4-3 or 3-4 — Lawson could play defensive end or outside linebacker. Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said the former 5-star recruit could play either spot.
“Carl is very versatile. He’s able to fit the odd scheme or the even scheme,” Malzahn said. “Bottom line is he can rush the passer. You look at [former Auburn defensive end] Dee Ford. I think there were a lot of questions regarding Dee Ford, and I think him and Carl have similar skill sets.”
Ford, who played with Lawson in Auburn’s 2013 run to the SEC championship, moved from defensive end to outside linebacker with the Kansas City Chiefs. Ford recorded 10 sacks in the 2016 season.
Steeler's head coach Mike Tomlin (black hat) chatting up Auburn DC Kevin Steele. pic.twitter.com/gc7ucCvxPG
— Lauren Shute (@LShute13) March 10, 2017
One team that could use Lawson as an outside linebacker had its head coach in Auburn on Friday. Lawson met with Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, and the former Auburn star tried to convince him of his skill set as a linebacker.
“I was trying to tell [Tomlin] that I could drop [into coverage], and he was like, ‘Nah, I need you to rush the passer,’ ” Lawson said. “I was like, OK, that’s what I do best.”