It’s no secret the Cincinnati Bengals were thrilled to get edge rusher Carl Lawson where they did in the draft, and for good reason.
Coming into the NFL Draft, Lawson was viewed as one of the top pass-rushers in a class full of them. some thought Lawson could be drafted sometime in Round 1, and he was almost certain to go sometime within the first two rounds.
Somehow, the Bengals got him in the early part of Round 4. The shocking fall was somewhat of a mirror image of what happened to Andrew Billings last year, as he too was a late first/early second-round prospect who fell into Round 4 before Cincinnati scooped him up.
But Lawson was a bit more special of a get for the Bengals, who reportedly had him atop their board heading into Day 3 of the draft, and they attempted to trade up for him, according to Bengals.com’s Geoff Hobson.
They coveted Auburn pass rusher Carl Lawson so much that they put him No. 1 on their board for the last day and tried to trade up to get him. They think (Jordan) Willis and Lawson were not only big-time college producers, but that they’re also try-hard practice guys that bring a great mentality up front.
There is some uncertainty as to how the Bengals will use Lawson as a rookie and beyond. It sounds like they’re going to work him into a hybrid linebacker/defensive end role in order to utilize his great pass-rushing talents, but also hide his weaknesses as a smaller guy.
At 6’2” and 261 pounds, it’s hard to see Lawson becoming a full-time defensive end in a 4-3 defense, especially in a Bengals defense that tends to favor longer, bigger ends. More from Hobson on that:
I don’t think they’re (the Bengals) being insistent on Lawson. He lined up a lot of times as a pass rusher as well as a linebacker in the rookie minicamp and I think that’s where you’ll see him this season. A situational pass rusher from the edge. They’re just going to see what they’ve got, but he clearly makes the team and I would think they count him as a down lineman instead of a linebacker.
Still, Lawson is a tremendous pass-rusher who will be a great asset to this defense as a rookie if used properly. He’ll likely stick to being a nickel edge rusher on passing downs early on, which all he needs to be with Carlos Dunlap, Michael Johnson, Jordan Willis and maybe even Marcus Hardison getting most of the end snaps this season.