The Las Vegas Raiders could upgrade their lackluster defensive unit by adding veteran free agent, defensive end Carl Lawson.
The Raiders brought in Gus Bradley this offseason to rebuild, revamp, and retool an underperforming unit. He’s best known for his Cover-3 defense he deployed during his tenure as the Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator. He is also known for his low blitz rate, listed at only 16.3 percent with the Los Angeles Chargers last year. This means the Minnesota native relies on the front four to create all the pressure on the quarterback. That’s bad news for a defense that gave up 30 points a game, 389 yards of total offense a game, and only 21 sacks.
The Raiders have a chance to rebuild their defensive line in the first two rounds of the NFL draft and in free agency. Assuming Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden do not reach for players or act in desperation. The Raiders need playmakers and difference makers at all three levels of the defense, especially in the defensive front, but look no further than pending free agent, Carl Lawson.
The Raiders need to get to the quarterback in 2021
The 116th player overall to be chosen from Auburn, Lawson was a fourth-round pick in 2017’s draft. Listed at 6’2 and 265 pounds, Lawson dropped in the selection meeting because of his size and injury concerns. At the time, he earned the tweener label, not big enough or strong enough to play a hand in the dirt 4-3 defensive end and not especially adept at playing in space as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense, although he did both. Just about every offense in the NFL employs some sort of shotgun, spread offense with multiple shifts, formations, and motions. Every team is looking for multiple pass rushers in all shapes and sizes. Getting to the quarterback is the only thing that matters.
What could Carl Lawson bring to the Silver and Black?
Lawson possesses a body that Hercules himself would be jealous of. The Raiders could use this thick, explosive off the ball, twitched up pass rusher as soon as possible. He has strong powerful hands at the point of attack and a full arsenal of pass rush moves with a non-stop motor.
However, Lawson comes with injury red flags. Having two ACL tears, one in college and one in the NFL in the span of four years is alarming. In his rookie year, the Auburn product had 8.5 sacks, which was second on the team to Geno Atkins’ nine. Meanwhile, he amassed 5.5 sacks, 32 quarterback hits, 44 pressures, and two forced fumbles in 2020.
Only three edge defenders in the NFL had more total pressures and only one had more hits in 2020 though. Lawson’s also credited for ‘creating’ 10.5 sacks for his teammates, a crazy stat indicative of Lawson‘s pass rush ability. At only 25 years of age, it’s time for the Raiders to acquire difference-makers on the defensive side of the ball. Stop acquiring talent from a desperation mindset and point of view.
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*Top Photo: Will Newton/Getty Images