Scouting: Shaq Lawson – DE, Clemson
Year: Junior (RS)
Ht/Wt: 6’3”/275 lbs.
Expected draft position: Mid-first round
Shaq Lawson was one of the most talented defensive players, on the one most talented defenses in the country, the #1 ranked Clemson Tigers. Clemson would fall to Alabama in the National Championship game, where Lawson still notched a pair of sacks. He led the nation with 25 tackles for loss on the year, to go along with 12.5 sacks, on his way to All-American honors.
2015 was the first year the redshirt junior got to start on a full time basis, and then he decided to declare for the draft after the amazing year. At just 22 years of age come week 1, he could grow even more into that stout frame of his by year two, 2017. Strength is already the name of Lawson’s game. I can’t imagine how freakish strong he could get in a couple more years. You’ll see what I mean as we roll the tape.
For the majority of this report, I take a look at how Lawson played against fellow first round frat prospect, Ronnie Stanley. Left tackle out of Notre Dame.
Discuss your thoughts on this potential Ravens draft prospect on our message board.
Lawson shows quickness, explosiveness off the ball, and savvy for a bigger guy with this spin move that beats Ronnie Stanley. Stanley gets beaten so badly that instead of letting his QB get killed, he tackles Lawson and takes the holding penalty.
Now Stanley is an NFL caliber LT, with size that plays at 6’6”, 315 pounds. He would get his in this game too. In the power game, here is an excellent look at give and take by both men. Lawson with a bull rush collapses the pocket. He shoves the much larger Stanley back into the QB. But once Stanley gets his feet back under him, he unleashes enough force to flatten Lawson. If Lawson finished the play, it would have been incredible. But moving Stanley like this looks good as well.
Tights ends are no match for blocking Lawson.
Blocking Lawson often takes a double team.
One major flaw I’ve found in Lawson’s game showed up in his tape against Florida State. It is the ability, or the fearlessness to take on a pulling blocker with a head of steam. On two occasions against Florida State, he curled up, for lack of better terms, like a baby, instead of attacking the blocker, or trying shed, sidestep it, anything but go into the fetal position. The second time he remained down and trainers tended to him. This is not good, but it could be coached up as well. Possibly he was nursing a pre-existing injury, who knows? It wasn’t apparent in other film.
Explosive in small spaces
Quick burst off the snap
Bull rush and spin move ability
Discipline (military school before Clemson)
Takes a double team at times to slow down
Showed well against top talent and on big stages
Speed around the edge
Closing speed in the open field
Coverage ability? Didn’t do much of it in Clemson’s 4-3 or 4-2-5
Handling pulling blockers
Summary: I’m excited to see what kind of numbers Lawson puts up at the combine. He might be strong and explosive enough to overcome the lack of speed I saw on tape. I wonder if he cracks even 4.7 in the 40. He might be a natural athlete with even more room to get stronger, but I don’t really see him playing in a 3-4 defense. He’s not big enough to play on the line of a 3-4 where the defensive tackles weigh in at 300+ pounds. As an outside linebacker in the 3-4 he’ll need to play some pass defense, and I don’t see him doing enough of it on tape to make me think he can do it.
Lawson reminds me of Shilique Calhoun in the way that sometimes he allows himself to be taken out of a play completely, but only to be twice as explosive on the next one.
Lawson might be best fit for a team with a 4-3 defense, where he can do exactly what you see on the tapes. But if the strength numbers are high enough, and I expect them to be among the top of the charts this weekend, he might shoot up draft boards from mid first round to top ten. If he runs in the 4.5-4.6 range in the 40-yard, it could as well.
If he shows well at the combine, Lawson could be in the conversation for the Ravens as an exception to the typical rules of what a 3-4 OLB is supposed to do, just on power alone. For the Ravens at pick #6, Lawson would likely be a guy they would trade back a few spots to nab, if they like him that much, and the quarterbacks don’t go off the top of the draft like some are thinking. In that case, guys like Bosa, Ramsey, Jack, Treadwell, Tunsil, could be gone.
Mike was born on the Eastern Shore, raised in Finksburg, and currently resides in Parkville. In 2009, Mike graduated from the Broadcasting Institute of Maryland. Mike became a Baltimore City Fire Fighter in late 2010. Mike has appeared as a guest on Q1370, and FOX45. Now a Sr. Ravens Analyst for BSL, he can be reached at [email protected]