#12 Dexter Lawrence Defensive Tackle Clemson
The 2019 NFL Draft should see its fair share of Clemson defensive linemen in the first round and Dexter Lawrence projects to be the first one selected. It could be hard to stand out with so many talented players playing for the Tigers, but being six foot four and 342 pounds helps. Lawrence’s size, strength and surprisingly good feet are what make him a top prospect.
You wouldn’t know it by looking at him, but Lawrence has good feet and moves well for his size. This allows Lawrence to beat stretch plays and move laterally with offensive linemen without over extending and getting out of position. His upper body strength (36 reps on bench press at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine) allows him to hold up against one-on-one blocks and forces teams to double team him against the run. Lawrence needs to find his niche in pass rush and he achieves that with an inside rip move. When he uses this move, he can be an effective rusher because it combines his good feet and overpowering strength. Although he has the unique ability to make tackles and run stops with offensive linemen still hanging on to him, he will become more effective if he uses his strength to shed blockers more frequently. Overall, Dexter Lawrence is a good run defender that is hard to move and has the potential to become an effective pass rusher, but needs to develop more effective pass rush moves.
There are reports that the Falcons are looking to trade up in order to get defensive tackle Ed Oliver, so that tells me they are interested in adding an interior line player. Assuming the Falcons are unsuccessful at trading up, Lawrence and Grady Jarrett could be a great pairing for years to come. The Dolphins just hired a defensive minded Head Coach in Brian Flores and have a roster that is full of needs. Lawrence could be the best available choice and too good for Miami to pass on. The Bills lost defensive tackle Kyle Williams to retirement and might be looking for his immediate replacement. If Oliver is off the board and Buffalo wants a new defensive tackle, Lawrence could find himself trying to fill William’s shoes.
Fit for the Raiders
Dexter Lawrence is very similar to Justin Ellis and Jonathan Hankins. Since the Raiders have two fairly young players with similar skill sets and Lawrence doesn’t bring much as a pass rusher, I don’t think he makes much sense for Oakland. While I have tied defensive tackle Quinnen Williams to the Raiders, the difference between him and Lawrence is 6.5 sacks (in 2018). Ultimately the combination of Lawrence projecting as an early teens pick and the Raiders’ depth at defensive tackle, means it will be unlikely to see Lawrence in the Silver and Black.