2016 NFL Draft: Shaq Lawson scouting report

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Today’s prospect profile focuses on one of my favorite defenders in this year’s draft, Shaq Lawson. A junior who decided to enter the draft early, the Clemson defensive end is one of this year’s best prospects in the draft. During his career at Clemson, Lawson had a total of 20 sacks including 12.5 his junior season, 67 solo tackles and 127 total tackles, including 45.5 tackles for a loss, and 1 forced fumble.

Lawson was a starter for his junior season after waiting behind 2015 First Round Selection and current Atlanta Falcon, Vic Beasley. Still though he made a significant impact on the field during both his freshman and sophomore campaigns. Lawson was part of a stout Clemson defensive line that was one of the best units in the country, especially in 2015 and 2016 where the defense finished number 1 in total defense and followed that with a run to the National Championship Game.

Lawson, who made the most of his one season as a starter was absolutely ruthless in the backfield. Along with teammate and fellow projected first-round selection Kevin Dodd, Lawson kept Offensive linemen on their toes and consistently was a presence in the backfield applying ample pressure on the opposing quarterback. One of the nation’s leaders in tackles for loss and sacks helped propel Lawson to receive consensus All-American and first-team ACC honors. His leadership skills are second to none, and he was able to pick up right where Beasley had left off.

The Basics

Height: 6’3"
Weight: 269 LBS.
Arm Length: 32 3/4"
Hands: 10"

Combine Results:

40 Yard Dash: 4.70
Vertical Jump: 33.0"
Broad Jump: 120.0"
20 YD Shuttle: 4.21

Combine Highlights Video: highlights

Game Film

  • Check out the highlights video of Shaq Lawson. In the following video his opposition includes Miami (FL), Florida State, Norte Dame, Syracuse, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, and South Carolina among others.


  • Has a massive, muscular frame, who has a tremendous amount of strength both in his lower and upper body.
  • During his time with the Clemson Tigers, Lawson played a lot at the 5-Technique as well as standing up on the outside.
  • Lawson has the abilities to adapt to both 3-4 and 4-3 Schemes. In a 3-4 he would best be utilized as an outside linebacker. In a 4-3, teams will most likely place him at Defensive End.
  • Lawson is able to extend his arms and push off blocks and cause havoc in the opposition’s backfield.
  • Lawson has the frame and strength to handle a double-team, and showed that many times throughout this past season especially against marquee teams such as Florida State and Alabama.
  • Speed: One of the fastest pass-rushers in the country this past season. He is quick off the line, has a high motor and elite speed at his position. He was the 4th fastest DE during the 40 yard dash at the combine and top performer in the 3-cone drill.
  • Has a high football IQ and his instincts on the field speak for themselves.
  • Has fearless leadership, is relentless on the line, and raises the level of play of all his teammates, especially those on the defensive line.
  • Has a massive amount of toughness, which was especially on display in the National Championship Game against Alabama as Lawson played the entire game with a left knee injury (MCL Sprain).


  • He is average at best in the hips and has a habit of keeping his pads higher which can hold him back from reaching higher levels of potential
  • At times throughout the season, especially the later parts, Lawson has shown signs of fatigue as games wear one.
  • Suffered an apparent left knee injury in the College Football Playoff semi-final against Oklahoma. It was believed to be an MCL Sprain. While he played in the National Title Game 12 days later and seemed healthy at the combine it’s still worthy to keep note of.
  • Many scouts have criticized his flexibility, especially if he is to play 4-3 Defensive End, and agree that he will need to find more creative paths towards those "Effort" sacks at the next level.

What Are They Saying

"This #90 (Shaq Lawson) Is A Difference Maker" - AFC Scout

"I still can’t believe Shaq Lawson ran a 4.70 40 and went 4.21 in the 3-cone at 270 pounds" -Matt Miller NFL Draft Scout for Bleacher Report

"With My 3rd Pick, I’m gonna take Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson. Gotta have an athletic, high motor pass rusher to disrupt QB play" - Bucky Brooks, Ex NFL Player & Scout.


Shaq Lawson is projected to go in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft. For the most part he is being mocked to get selected around the 10-15 pick range. Should the 49ers be interested in drafting Shaq Lawson he will almost definitely fall to them at pick number 7. However, if 49ers General Manager Trent Baalke doesn’t quite see the value in selecting Lawson at their current spot, and feels he can trade back then perhaps he can swap picks with the Los Angeles Rams who might be looking to move up to select a QB. Selecting Lawson at pick #15 seems just right in terms of value and will probably net the 49ers more draft picks or a player or two as compensation for trading back.

As mentioned earlier, Lawson is quite versatile and will be able to play in both 4-3 and 3-4 Schemes. However, the consensus among scouts and GM's is that at the next level Lawson might best be utilized as a 3-4 outside linebacker, which is great news if you are a 49ers fan. New Defensive Coordinator Jim O’Neil ran a 3-4 defense at Cleveland and new Head Coach Chip Kelly has expressed that he wants the 49ers defense in a 3-4 as well. Having Shaq Lawson opposite of Aaron Lynch can potentially be a lethal and dangerous duo and give a spark to a pass rush that is in dire need of it.

Overall, Lawson is a team-first player and relentless leader. He waited patiently as a back-up for two years before shinning in the spotlight in his one and only year as a starter at Clemson. My biggest concern for Lawson if he is drafted by the Niners is his fatigue levels. With Kelly’s high-paced offense, the defense will be on the field a good amount of time. If Lawson is in fact drafted by the 49ers it will be wise to watch his fatigue levels, especially as the game wears on. Bottom line though is that he is a game changer, and stands a good chance of being an instant contributor in week 1 of the 2016 NFL season. His toughness, instincts, and competitiveness will instantly upgrade any team’s Front Seven. I only expect that the tackles for loss and sacks will increase over time as Lawson adapts to the speed of the NFL.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors.