The former 5 star recruit, Carl Lawson, hasn’t quite taken off at Auburn like the high school prowess would’ve suggested. However, he’s dealt with injuries for a good chunk of the past 3 years, and even missed all of 2014.

Back to full health this past season, he set career-highs with 9 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss as a redshirt junior heading into the bowl game. Lawson elected to forego his senior season and avoid the risk of further injuries by declaring for the 2017 NFL Draft. While durability and size may be concerns at the next level, Lawson has showed major flashes as a pass rusher and carries tremendous potential into the NFL.

There are surely question marks surrounding Lawson, but he is surely a joy to watch and you have to admire the way he plays the game. Is he good enough to sneak into the 1st round? Find out below:

Name: Carl Lawson
Position: EDGE
Size: 6’2”/255
School: Auburn
Class: Junior (RS)
Comparison: LaMarr Woodley
Draft Grade: 3rd Round

Positives: Has the body of an NFL veteran. Maxed-out frame with broad shoulders and bulging muscles. Strong arms, meat on his hips and backside with the big calves and ankles to hold it up. Solid speed turning the edge. Has improved pad-level when fighting and holds up well with bigger, longer players. Could develop into a master hand-fighter. Strong hands. Stays disciplined and sheds blocks. Has the power to body slam offensive tackles with one arm. Above-average upper body power. Turns into a junkyard dog when attacking the QB and has a knack for getting where he needs to be through sheer force of will. Attacks, attacks, attacks and plays hard through the entire game. When his first moves fails has counter-moves and knows how to work inside. Outsmarts and overpowers lower-level competition and also has noted success against blue-chip opponents. Has improved against the run and has dedicated himself to being an all-around player. Plays within his abilities and doesn’t sell out his assignment for his own glory. Knows when and when not to hit the QB and shows great discipline avoiding penalties in the backfield. A leader who leads by example. Has dealt with injury setbacks and worked hard to come back from them. Plays through pain. Takes excellent care of his body. Has a great understanding of how to handle the media and is an exemplary communicator. A student of the game who spends time studying Khalil Mack and Melvin Ingram. The game is important to him. Very intelligent. Mature. Old school attitude. Tremendous football character who will win over scouts, coaches, and executives.

Negatives: On the short side. Short arms. Lacks lower body explosion and quick feet. Doesn’t have the speed to make plays outside of his area. Lack of length shows up when he fails to corral moving quarterbacks. Does not impact throwing lanes. Lack of height and length sometimes show up in run support where he can’t see what’s going on around him. Not explosive running the loop and losses balance when he attempts to dip and get low. Spends too much time on his knees in the backfield when rushing the passer. Lower body stiffness sometimes leads to him playing too high. Slow read-and-react skills and can be seen thinking when others around him are reacting which leads to missed opportunities.

Outlook: Carl Lawson is one of the most unique players in this draft class. Lawson is a gritty pass-rusher who has dominated all levels of competition but has also dealt with injuries which will need to be evaluated next April at the combine. Although physically limited in a few areas his fundamentals, strength, work ethic and leadership cannot be questioned. Lawson should find some success as a pass-rusher at the next level and makes sense right now somewhere in the third round.

About The Author Jesse Fritsch

Jesse Fritsch is a Wisconsin native who has spent 11 years independently evaluating NFL draft prospects and following the draft process. He happily spends most of his free time researching players and watching games in his man cave while occasionally coming up for air to share.