In April’s 2019 NFL Draft, Wingate University’s Cardell Rawlings could become the latest non-Division 1 player to be an impactful player upon being drafted.
All year round, scouts are working night and day to find talent from all over the country. During every draft season, some players are found that make those scouts, and general managers look like geniuses, “sleepers” as we like to call them. They come from all over, not just the smaller Division 1 schools. Recently, we have seen DII WR Adam Thielen from Minnesota State to even DIII OG Ali Marpet from Hobart College. The 2019 NFL Draft is no different.
One name that could be making an impact on Sundays is DII Wingate University DE/OLB Cardell Rawlings. If you can rush the passer, you can find a spot in the NFL. For Rawlings, that is what he does best. At 6’ 2” and 240 lbs, Rawlings went on to win and set all types of accolades and records. He was a DII All-American, AP All-American, SAC Defensive Player of the Year, and set school records with 18 sacks and 23 tackles for loss during his senior season.
With his size, Rawlings would be a great 3-4 OLB where he can use his pass rushing skills and speed to his advantage. He has the flexibility to cover as well. It’s where Rawlings believes he can use his strengths the best. “Stand up outside backer, where I can use my pass rush as that is something that comes easily to me. Handling the edge as well on a run play and using my IQ to quickly read RPO’s.”
Rawlings’ speed is what sets him apart and is probably why his pass rushing skills come so easy. “I ran a 4.5 (40-yard dash) last spring, but I have been training on the technicalities and getting stronger so that will get even faster.” At 6’ 2”, 240 lbs and running a 4.5, we would be talking about Rawlings as a combine warrior if that was at the scouting combine and getting rave reviews.
In speaking with Rawlings, it also makes sense as to how he racked up so many sacks when finding out who he models his game after. “When it comes to pass rushing I mirror a mix of Yannick Ngakoue and Demarcus Lawrence. When it comes to linebacker play, Jaylon Smith.” If Rawlings can follow suit and be even a piece of each of those stars, he is going to have a heck of a career.
With the new NFL defenses, matching up with the ever-changing offenses have been more and more paramount. Rawlings also understands that covering for a linebacker is almost a necessity now and he has been working to master his craft in that regard most. “Getting my coordination and coverage perfected to defend on rack up PBUs. I want to be the receiver on defense and capitalize with six points more often!”
You can never have enough pass rushers. Therefore, a plethora of teams can use the size and speed off the edge that Rawlings brings. In the video above, you can see the hustle and motor in which Rawlings plays. Specific attributes such as those are what you look for as a coach. Rawlings has the intangibles and work ethic to be a great addition to a team. With NFL coaching on top of what he has displayed already, the sky is the limit for Rawlings.