Atlanta Falcons 2016 Scouting Report: DE Shaq Lawson
With the 17th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, the Atlanta Falcons select…
At this point, there could be several names to choose from for Dan Quinn and the Falcons at 17. Majority of the Falcons followers agree that linebacker is the number one need for the Falcons. The kicker is which linebacker: Reggie Ragland, Jaylon Smith, or Myles Jack.
However, the history of the NFL Draft proves one thing: that nothing is certain. So while we all may want to walk away with an elite linebacker, having a Plan B, C, and possibly D is never a bad idea. In the scenario that Atlanta doesn’t select a linebacker at 17, Clemson DE Shaq Lawson will be highly coveted if he’s still on the board. Let’s break down the skilled pass rusher.
DE Shaq Lawson, Clemson
Weight: 275 lbs
Strengths: Thick defensive end with excellent upper body strength, Lawson comes in with an NFL frame. As a run defender, Lawson was one of the best in college football, which was evident with his 24.5 tackles for loss. He is also very dependable in setting the edge consistently and either able to make the play or force the ball carrier to cut back into his free-flowing teammates.
Lawson possesses very good strength in the lower half of his frame, which makes it difficult to drive or move him around as an offensive linemen. He has a spin move in his pass rushing arsenal which is effective although it can use a little more quickness to it. Borderline unblock-able with just a tight end or running back.
Lawson drew the attention of offenses such as Notre Dame, Florida State, North Carolina, and Miami as they all schemed to double team Lawson on various occasions. Able to show patience when playing the zone read, reacts quickly to the ball carrier. 2015 season totaled 59 tackles, 24.5 tackles for loss, and 12.5 sacks.
“So while we all may want to walk away with an elite linebacker, having a Plan B, C, and possibly D is never a bad idea”
Weaknesses: Lawson doesn’t have an explosive first step and is the last lineman out of his stance at times. His bend around the edge is not as consistent as it should be. Lawson has shown at times to beat his opponent across from him, get deep into the backfield and pretty much has the QB wrapped up but doesn’t finish the play. He also has a little bit of conditioning issue, however that could also be the result of a plethora of snaps during the season.
Bottom line: Lawson will be taken in the first round. There is no doubt about that at all. The question is where. He could very well find himself in the top ten, but I’ve also seen & heard enough from other writers that Lawson could see a tumble towards the bottom half of the first round, or better yet, right into the laps of the Atlanta Falcons.
Next: Falcons 2016 scouting report: DL Jonathan Bullard
If selected by Atlanta, Quinn can work his magic and be creative. We’ve seen that DQ could take Vic Beasley and line him on the “strong-side” as he did against Carolina part two, and allow Beasley to speed past slower right tackles while his bigger pass rusher in Lawson collapses pockets from the backside. While watching Lawson’s film, he pretty much lined up on the right side 99.9 percent of the time.
The luxury in having Lawson is that he has the build and the skill set to be just as effective lining on the strong-side as well. The addition of Lawson can give the Falcons defense a pair of pass rushers to create havoc and make life miserable for offenses.