EDGE Carl Lawson, Auburn
Next up: Auburn sack artist Carl Lawson. Or should I say pressure artist? While Lawson has been a havoc for SEC offensive lines to block during his time at Auburn, his stellar play has not shown up in the box score. With only 1 sack thus far in 2016, matching his total in an injury plagued 2015, is Lawson a good fit for the Steelers?
Don’t worry about the low sack totals. Lawson is the real deal, I promise you. Additionally, Lawson is an intriguing prospect because of his plethora of easily translatable talents. For example, Lawson is such an explosive and powerful athlete that it is easy to foresee him adjusting to the change in skill level. Even against big-bodied SEC linemen, Lawson has no issues tossing blockers aside and blowing through them with his bull rushes. With an explosive get-off and impressive burst, Lawson often beats opposing linemen immediately off the snap. Also, Lawson has extremely powerful hands that he uses to redirect blockers. While rushing he passer, Lawson simply throws blockers out of his way with his heavy hands.
Using his aforementioned elite hand usage, Carl Lawson has fantastic creativity to his pass rushes. Like Harris, Lawson is not your one trick pony who will win with just his speed or one talented move. Lawson is a refined EDGE rusher who uses his athleticism, hand usage, and pass rushing moves to attack the quarterback. I would sum up Lawson’s style of play with one word: violent. Lawson is relentless in his attack, moving linemen with his heavy hands and willing his way to the QB. Additionally, Lawson possesses an impressive bull rush, as he plays with fantastic leverage due to his shorter, 6’2″ frame. A freakishly strong EDGE rusher with a short, yet absolutely yoked out frame? Sounds like James Harrison to me.
As I briefly mentioned above, Lawson has yet to rack up big sack totals despite generating a ton of pressures. This is partially attributed to Lawson’s struggles to finish sacks and plays. Often times, Lawson will do everything perfectly but miss the tackle on the QB at the end of the play. Lawson merely needs to fix up his finishing abilities to improve this area of the game. Otherwise, the only other issue for Lawson is staying on the field to produce.
To put it briefly, Lawson has had some trouble with durability throughout his time at Auburn. Lawson missed his entire 2014 season with a torn ACL, and played in only 7 contests in 2015 due to injury as well. If Lawson can stay on the field and learn to finish more of his pressures, I could easily see him flying up draft boards this season.
If Lawson were to fall in the draft due to worries about sack totals and durability concerns, I would love for the Steelers to spend a pick on him. In my opinion, adding a freakishly athletic EDGE rusher like Lawson would do wonders for Pittsburgh’s defense. His violent playing style and aggressive tenacity would easily earn the love of Steeler Nation. Thus, I would love to see Lawson one day line up as an OLB in the black and gold.