The revolving door that is Clemson’s defensive line, it was Shaq Lawson’s turn to make his presence felt in the ACC this past season. The Tigers looked for him to fill the void left behind by 2015 1st round pick, Vic Beasley. Lawson answered the call in a big way. The junior defensive end made his dominance felt as he registered 24.5 tackles for loss – the most in the nation, to go along with 12.5 sacks. His play was pivotal in Clemson’s run at a National Championship.
Name: Shaq Lawson
Projection: 1st Round
Comparison: Charles Johnson
- Balanced pass rusher
- Setting the edge in run defense
- Block Shedding
- Lateral movement
Shaq Lawson emerged on the scene in his first season as a starter and was incredibly productive, even as a reserve in his first two seasons he posted solid numbers. Lawson made a living in the backfield this past season in large part due to his tremendous block shedding ability. He has sound technique and uses his hands effectively. Lawson has great strength and is extremely powerful and explosive.
Overall, Lawson is a balanced defensive end with very good size. He isn’t one-dimensional as he can make an impact against the run or as a pass rusher. He does a great job at setting the edge to stop outside runs and uses his length and wide tackle radius to wrap up ball carriers. As a pass rusher, he displays good technique with a variety of moves – has a killer spin move.
Some may question Lawson’s experience after starting only one year. The way I look at it, he’s just starting to hit his peak. Weaknesses I see in his actual game are his quickness along the line of scrimmage and his overall speed. Also, at times it looks like he quits on plays when the ball carrier breaks past the line of scrimmage. Most scouting reports I see consider his motor a strength in his game, but I disagree with that. He’s not the most athletic linemen, but he has enough to get by. You’ll see him display good athleticism in spurts.
You have to admire players who play through injury in big games for the good of the team. Despite nursing a knee injury, Lawson still suited up in the National Championship game and even registered two sacks. That was a good display of toughness which teams will like.
Lawson is an extremely strong player. He may not be a perennial Pro Bowler or All Pro at the next level, but he will be a good, sturdy starter for years to come. His size and skillset limits him to a 4-3 scheme. I see him going anywhere from the 10-26 pick range, a surefire 1st round pick with no glaring weaknesses in his game.