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2017 Draft Profile: OLB Carl Lawson

Posted Apr 18, 2017

The pass rusher from Auburn would give the Ravens a much-needed defender who can get after quarterbacks. He’s coming off the best season of his career, where he earned All-SEC recognition.

OLB Carl Lawson, Auburn

Size: 6-foot-2, 261 pounds

2016 stats: 30 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble

Career stats: 67 tackles, 24.5 tackles for loss, 14.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles

Combine stats: 4.67-second 40-yard dash, 35 bench press reps, 33-inch vertical jump, 114-inch broad jump, 4.19-second 20-yard shuttle

Background: Lawson is coming off the best season of his college career, and he was finally able to play an entire season after dealing with injuries the past few years. Lawson missed the 2014 season with a torn ACL and was limited by a hip injury in 2015, but he bounced back to earn All-SEC honors last year. When Lawson was on the field, he created problems for offenses. He averaged a sack, hit or hurry once every 5.4 pressures last season, according to Pro Football Focus. He is creative in his pass-rush moves, and he best projects as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defensive scheme. The Ravens want to bolster their pass rush after releasing Elvis Dumervil and with Terrell Suggs heading into his 15th NFL season, and Lawson has the makeup to fill that hole on the roster. 

Strengths: “Well-built with good muscular definition. Strong upper body. Has crisp, sharp hands. Able to strike and release to shed tight ends quickly. Aggressive setting edge and works with maxed-out arm extension after punch. Fights through down blocks from tight ends and receivers to string outside runs to the sideline. Could play standing up or with a hand on the ground. Has NFL power and aggressiveness. Explosive get-off with some heat in his feet over first two steps upfield. Good forward lean into his rush. Slaps and chops at tackle's punch to soften the edge. Takes tight, linear track to quarterback with big close-out burst once he turns the corner. Experience rushing from interior-line spot and stand-up inside backer. Finesse tackles will struggle to handle his speed-to-power bursts.” – Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

Weaknesses: “While powerfully-built, Lawson lacks ideal height and length, limiting his potential to impact passing lanes, as his zero career passes defensed and blocked kicks suggest. Further, while swift in a straight-line, Lawson does not show ideal flexibility when turning the corner or changing directions. He is able to do so in part because his height allows him to dip under the reach of tackles but Lawson shows some stiffness in his hips (as many players with his bulked-up build do), raising some question as to how well he'd be able to handle a stand-up edge rusher role or drop into coverage. Comes with significant medical questions, including a torn ACL in 2014 and hip injury in 2015 that each required surgery and forced Lawson to miss 19 of 26 games over those two seasons.” – Rob Rang, CBS Sports

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