This week we take a look at Clemson defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence as a potential draft target for the Atlanta Falcons.
Dexter Lawrence DT Clemson 6′ 4″ 340 pounds, scouted on his September 29th game against Syracuse
Dexter Lawrence is a naturally large man. Lawrence has a bit of a tire around his waist, but what 340-pound human being doesn’t? Isn’t slovenly fat. Could he stand to lose 10 – 20 pounds? Maybe, but he carries 340 well. Athletic for his size. Moved around better than Raekwon Davis did last week, and is 20 – 30 pounds heavier than Davis. Dropped into coverage on a handful of zone-blitzes. Naturally strong. Handled double-teams well – didn’t split them, but held his ground and allowed others to make plays. Got a good push for most of the game in passing situations. Lined up primarily at RDT, but occasionally played LDT, as well as NT and DE when Clemson used a 3-4 look. Generally got a good jump off the snap. Decent instincts. Did a good job of staying low and not losing leverage.
All of Clemson’s highly-touted defensive linemen were handled pretty well by the Syracuse offensive line in this game, and Lawrence was no exception. He got walled off and turned around on occasion, and even wound up on the ground now and again. When Syracuse QB Eric Dungey scored on a goalline run in the fourth quarter, Lawrence was moved several yards off the ball, which just shouldn’t happen to a man of his size. He seemed to wear down as the game wore on, even though he was rotated out of the game regularly. Relied pretty much on a bull rush with his size and strength, rarely using any technique. As a result, he often got wired to blocks and struggled to disengage.
Based on this small sample size, Lawrence’s reputation as a potential first rounder seems to be base on potential rather than production. It’s the old Bill Parcells theory of “planet” players – there just aren’t too many players on the planet with that combination of size, strength, and athleticism, so you grab them when you can. For the Falcons, though, based on this game, I don’t know if Lawrence would be a good scheme fit. He seems better suited to be a pure nose tackle in a 3-4. He could be a 1-technique in a 4-3, as well, but probably not in the Falcons’ scheme that looks for faster penetrators.