RSP Film Room No.78: Clemson DE Shaq Lawson


GM Jr.’s Scott Bischoff provides the film room a compelling contrarian view of a player many regard as a top-15 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. 

There’s a difference between first-round talent and talent that goes in the top half of the first round. Scott Bischoff makes that argument with Shaq Lawson. A smart run defender with the power to collapse the edge in the passing game, Bischoff has concerns about Lawson’s get-off, the flexibility of Lawson’s hips and ankles, and the closing speed of the Clemson star.

Bischoff makes the case that Lawson, and the other top 4-3 defensive ends are getting pushed up draft boards based on need. After watching three games of Lawson before this viewing and studying this fourth game with Bischoff, I have a difficult time making a good opposing argument.

I like Lawson’s hands and the potential for him to get better using them. He’s smart and disciplined about maintaining his responsibilities as a run defender. And he has a spin move that works in either direction.

But I need to see Lawson destroy opponents when he has the clear advantage so he can finish plays strong and not inadvertently keep them alive for his opponents. I need to see him get off the line (as well as not line up in the neutral zone 2-3 times a week) quicker. And I need to see better bend.

I’m puzzled why he’s considered an instant impact player equivalent to a high first-round prospect. I agree with Bischoff that he’s a solid contributor in the mold of a Courtney Upshaw, but not a force in the passing game. See for yourself.

Some additional thoughts from John Owning about Lawson’s get-off that I think is worth consideration:

johnowning's avatar

Hey Matt, watching your film room on Shaq Lawson and you guys were wondering why he was late off the ball so much and I think I may have an answer as to why he is really late sometimes. My theory is that he is coached to react to the movement of the players across from him rather than the ball being snapped, which would cause him to be later than what you normally see. Randy Gregory did the same thing in Nebraska.

johnowning's avatar

I’m not sure. If I had to guess, I would say because Beasley wasn’t very adept against the run, they altered their approach with him to fit his strengths. Since Lawson is much better against the run and more well rounded, they went to how they wanted.

MattWaldman's avatar

So here’s the question.:Why would they do that with Lawson, but not Beasley?

johnowning's avatar

The Clemson DC Brent Venables was brought up under Stoops at Oklahoma and they do a similar thing with their DL as they usually read the movement of man across instead of the ball.

MattWaldman's avatar

Thank you. Very good to know.

You can follow Scott at @Bischoff_Scott on Twitter.  You can follow John Owning a@Johnowning.

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