Lemon left Yates High School as a quarterback but shifted to defense as a freshman in 2006. He learned the position while playing sparingly his first two years (13 games, six tackles, interception), but that changed in 2008 when the junior stopper started all 13 contests. He notched 90 tackles, good enough for second on the team, with four behind the line, eight pass breakups and two forced fumbles.
However, a torn left ACL days before the opening game of the 2009 season derailed what promised to be a banner year for Lemon, so he took a medical redshirt. His ability to return strong from that injury this fall, and his production and a lack of 4-3 "Mike" linebackers, should lead to a late-round selection.
Positives: Thick, solid build with adequate bulk and strength. Holds up well at the point of attack and does not give up ground when engaged by bigger blockers. Closes on the ball-carriers very quickly, plays faster than timed speed indicates. Drives through tackles and maintains momentum through contact. Takes smart angles to the ball and plays the pass well when asked to keep everything in front of him. Attacks runners and fills the hole in a timely manner on a consistent basis. Gains initial leverage on pulling guards and uses his below average height to his advantage. Shows good hand placement and can shed blocks and redirect opponents. Is a hard worker who has played through pain and has a reputation as a team leader.
Negatives: Shorter than scouts prefer at the position. Might be maxed out physically. Inconsistent diagnosing plays and reading run/pass keys. Takes false steps and does not possess the quickness or change-of-direction skills to recover. Hammers into runners without wrapping up at times, falling off ball-carriers. Can be sucked into the backfield on play-action passes and sometimes runs himself out of the play due to his aggressive nature. Possesses below average range in zone coverage and struggles to cover in space. Plays too upright at times, losing his balance when asked to quickly break on thrown balls."
Positive: Forceful run-defending linebacker who is best in the box. Displays a good head for the ball, remains disciplined with assignments, and chases the action hard. Stout at the point, wraps up tackling, and can be an intimidating force in the middle. Effectively uses his hands to shed blocks. Takes proper angles to the action. Has adequate skill in zone coverage when he's not asked to move laterally.
Negative: Plays stiff at times. Lacks top speed to the sidelines. Possesses a marginal burst and is ineffective in pursuit.
Analysis: Lemon stepped up his game as a senior and overcame limited athleticism with his competitive style. He's a solid two-down defender who could be a backup on the inside of a 3-4 defense."
Strengths: Teams top defender and unquestioned leader. Thick, stocky, powerful frame with inherent leverage. Very strong and hits like a truck. Generally plays within the confines of the defense and suffocates interior running lanes. Can be a tremendous tackler. Gets depth on his drops in pass coverage. Used as a blitzer and can blow up backs assigned to pick him up. Improved as the season progressed.
Weaknesses: Not yet back at full speed following knee injury in 2009. Lacks great range and is not fast/athletic enough for man coverage responsibilities. Overaggressive at times and overruns plays, and doesn't always wrap up ballcarries, instead going for the kill shot.
Projection: Tackle-to-tackle run stuffer should be a mid-late round pick. First and second down player only, but can be an asset in that capacity. Should be great on special teams, and has the leadership qualities every NFL team will appreciate. Likely a 3-4 ILB."