Position: Edge defender
Weight: 253 pounds
School: Auburn Tigers
Carl Lawson 2017 NFL Draft Profile
Carl Lawson has gone through a lot, but he put on a 2016 season that has his draft stock relatively high heading into draft season. Lawson came out of high school with sky-high stock as a prospect. He was rated as the top defensive lineman in the country, the second highest recruit in the state of Georgia, and the fourth rated prospect in the country.
Big things were expected of Lawson but as a freshman and he showed his big upside. Lawson recorded four sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss in 11 games. However, from there, the rocky road began. Lawson missed the entire next season with an ACL injury that required a medical redshirt. He recovered and was able to get back on the field for the start of his redshirt sophomore season. However, that season was cut short after just seven games due to hip issues. He dealt with those issues throughout the season and only recorded one sack in that span.
However, once again he bounced back, and his redshirt junior season put a lot of his questions to rest. He was completely healthy and played a full season for the first time since he was a 19-year old freshman. His season featured 9.5 sacks and 14 tackles for loss. It was enough to boost his draft stock, and given his injury history, he made the right decision to enter the NFL Draft. Now the question will be how much does those two years affect his stock, and how high does Lawson go?
- Fluid and technically precise movement.
- Wins with strike and dip move.
- Good at setting the edge.
- Football smarts.
- Strong counter moves.
- Flexibility and bend.
- Can win with his hands.
- Coming off an ACL injury affects his ability to get off of the ball.
- Could add playing strength.
- Doesn’t win much with a bull rush.
- Got caught trying to jump the snap too often.
- Not very athletic.
- Limited lateral ability and closing speed.
- Stiff hips.
NFL Comparison: Tamba Hali
Teams with needs at position: Miami Dolphins, Pittsburgh Steelers, Indianapolis Colts, Detroit Lions, Dallas Cowboys
Projection: late first to early second round
Lawson is quite possibly the most polished edge prospect in the class. His hand movement, his routes to the quarterback and his ability to set the edge against the run are all very refined traits that he can immediately bring into the NFL. However, you can see how the injuries have affected his performance and his upside.
He doesn’t have that burst that can be so notable in other similar draft prospects. He is stiff in his hips, and his ability to get off of the ball is a step behind because of the lingering effects of his ailments.
It is safe to say his best traits will be using his positioning to move the pocket, and use his awareness to set the edge against the run. This is where the Hali comparison can come in. Hali doesn’t currently have a strong burst and has suited best as a stud run defender, who compliments a speed pass rusher on the opposite side of him.
Lawson may never be a sack leader in the NFL, and his upside may not be as high as some of the other prospects. However, injuries aside it appears as though Lawson is destined to be a consistent force in the NFL for a long time due to his well defined and thought out movements. Most teams will not look to jump on him in the early parts of the first round because of his ceiling, but as a late first round pick, or a second round option, Lawson is going to be on the better picks in that area.