NFL draft profile: Clemson DE Shaq Lawson well-built edge rusher (Shutdown Corner)

Shutdown Corner is counting down the top 50 prospects in the 2016 NFL draft with a scouting report, quotes from NFL evaluators and a projection where they might be drafted. 1 2 . Clemson DE Shaq Lawson 6-foot-3, 269 pounds Key stat : In his first two seasons, Lawson collected 21 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks. In 2015, replacing first-round pick Vic Beasley, Lawson collected 25.5 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks. [ Follow Yahoo Sports draft expert Eric Edholm on Facebook and Twitter ] The skinny : Growing up in the shadows of Clemson, Lawson spent a year at Hargrave Military Academy and then was a role player his first two years in college on a talented Tigers line. Then Lawson broke out as a junior in 2015, finishing as a finalist for three major awards (Hendricks, Nagurski, Lombardi) and led the NCAA in tackles for losses. He had two sacks in the national championship loss to Alabama despite having sprained his knee in the semifinal win over Oklahoma the week before. Lawson left school early and peformed well at his pro day and at the NFL combine, although a left shoulder injury prevented him from doing the bench. Scouts asked him to work out at the pro day as a linebacker, and he looked able enough. Clemson had Lawson standing up at times, as well as kicking down inside at times as a defensive lineman, so his versatility is solid. NFL teams noted to Shutdown Corner that Lawson had strong interviews throughout the pre-draft process. Best-suited destination: Fairly scheme-diverse, Lawson could be a open-side rusher in a 4-3 front or as a stand-up rush ‘backer in a 3-4, although the former might be a little better fit. He’s well-built but not that long and possesses goof but not elite change-of-direction skills. Teams that could use a front-seven “force” player such as Lawson includes the Atlanta Falcons (who drafted Beasley last year), Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins, New Orleans Saints, New York Jets, Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and others. So, basically half the NFL teams or more.   Reason he’ll rise in draft : The pass-rushing talent in this class is slightly overwhelming, and it drops off precipitously after the top 40 or 50 picks in the draft. It would be shocking to see Lawson fall past that point or, frankly, even that close to it. He could develop into an elite run-stopping end and even a solid pass rusher. There’s little doubt he can be a three-down impact player. As long as his conditioning is in line, there are not many major concerns in Lawson’s game. Reason he’ll fall in draft : But on the flip side, other than run stopping is there anything that Lawson is truly great at? That’s the debate that NFL teams could be having — even if they’ve slapped a very strong grade on him previously — on the clock when weighing two options. He has some versatility, but he likely fits best as a 4-3 end and might not solve any team’s pass rush overnight. Beasley was considered the far superior QB hunter coming out, and he had moments struggling to adapt at times as a rookie. Scouting hot take : “When you watch him, you have to remind yourself when he’s making all these plays. They’re all third downs, fourth quarters, big plays when you need them. That’s what I like best about him: Dude finds a way. We could use some of those.” — NFC pro scout who cross-checked defensive linemen Player comp : Jabaal Sheard, who will command big money next year Expected draft range : Top 25 pick Previous profiles 50. Ohio State WR Braxton Miller 49. Indiana OT Jason Spriggs 48. Florida DL Jonathan Bullard 47. Texas Tech OT Le’Raven Clark 46. Arkansas TE Hunter Henry 45. Oklahoma WR Sterling Shepard 44. Michigan State QB Connor Cook 43. West Virginia S Karl Joseph 42. Michigan State DE-OLB Shilique Calhoun 41. Notre Dame WR Will Fuller 40. Pitt WR Tyler Boyd 39. Oklahoma State DE Emmanuel Ogbah 38. Alabama DE-DT A’Shawn Robinson 37. Mississippi State QB Dak Prescott 36. Memphis QB Paxton Lynch 35. Alabama C Ryan Kelly 34. Louisiana Tech DT Vernon Butler 33. Ole Miss DT Robert Nkemdiche 32. Georgia DE-OLB Leonard Floyd 31. USC S-LB Su’a Cravens 30. Alabama LB Reggie Ragland 29. Mississippi State DT-DE Chris Jones 28. Baylor NT Andrew Billings 27. Notre Dame LB Jaylon Smith 26. Houston CB William Jackson III 25. Alabama RB Derrick Henry 24. Ohio State CB Eli Apple 23. Eastern Kentucky DE-OLB Noah Spence 22. Baylor WR Corey Coleman 21. Ohio State OT Taylor Decker 20. Kansas State OG Cody Whitehair 19. Michigan State OT Jack Conklin 18. Alabama DE-DT Jarran Reed 17. TCU WR Josh Doctson 16. Clemson CB Mackensie Alexander 15. Ohio State LB Darron Lee 14. Clemson DE Kevin Dodd 13. Cal QB Jared Goff More on NFL prospects PODCAST: NFL Draft Preview Week 5: Big Trade, Big Uglies: Grandstanding: A Yahoo Sports podcast Subscribe via iTunes or via RSS feed – – – – – – – Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

from Yahoo Sports



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