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The 2016 NFL Draft is closing in and there are so many tremendous defensive players yet to discuss.  One of the best defenders is former Clemson Shaq Lawson who certainly turned heads duringslawson this year’s national championship game against Alabama with two sacks and four total tackles.  I reviewed that game along with his 2015 games against Notre Dame, North Carolina, Florida State, NC State, and Miami to get a better feel of the skills and attributes that this disruptive, potential superstar bring to the next level.  Here are my thoughts:

DE/OLB-Shaq Lawson, Clemson 6′ 3″ 269 lbs.

Cons: While he is a very versatile player, it might be difficult for him to hold the edge in a 3-4 scheme at only 269 lbs.  Lawson is better suited to play a 4-3 defensive end or perhaps play as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme.  His motor can run hot and cold as the further the play is away from him, the less interested the defender becomes.   The former Tiger does not have many pass rushing moves and mostly tries to use his brute strength and athleticism to get past blockers.  That might work in college, but he will need to improve his swim move, spins, and recoil his hands better to create separation between the offensive lineman trying to contain him if he wants NFL success.  He is a little tight hipped and will need to improve his ability to bend if he wants to be an impactful pass rusher.

Pros: Unlike most defenders, the muscular, thick framed Lawson can play equally well against the pass and run.  He has quick striking, powerful hands that allow him to be able to get off blocks.  The former Tiger fires out low at the snap, has a good first penetrating step, and can change directions quickly.  The defender shows good technique making tackles and can line up in a four, three, or two point stance on his way to the quarterback; it does not seem to matter to him.  He has good balance and bounces up quickly when Lawson gets knocked down.  It’s his quickness and agility that make him able to bust up a wide receiver screen ten yards away.  During the NFL Combine, the play maker has an impressive 4.70 second time in the 40-yard dash and a 4.21 20-yard shuttle time which were both tops in his position.

Overall impressions: Lawson is an overall solid defensive player, but will probably not ever be elite.  He needs to improve his pass rushing moves and acquire a little better bend.  I expect him to be a better fantasy option if he remains listed as a defensive end, instead of an outside linebacker.  Lawson is a top five rookie defensive linemen, but would be a top fifteen outside backer.

Thanks for reading!

You can follow me on Twitter @AndrewMiley and/or the site @Dynasty_Blitz. 



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