The Cincinnati Bengals found a few gems in the 2017 NFL Draft. But, so far, the player who seems to bring the highest value, considering his humble fourth round selection in the draft, is fourth round pick Carl Lawson. Throughout training camp, he was all over the field, constantly receiving praise for impressive performances. Perhaps that should have been expected as, according to Marvin Lewis, he has been focused on being the best worker he can be.
“He’s been the early (to work) guy, the (staying) late guy,” Lewis said at Wednesday’s press conference. “He wants to do everything correctly. He actually talks out there on the field. He doesn’t seem like somebody who talks much. He wants to come over and talk. He comes in my office and wants to sit and watch film. That part, you really like about him. We are blessed with that.”
Lawson’s passion for what he does has already been well documented. Therefore, it is no surprise he is such a hard worker in his first season at the NFL level. He wants to be great at what he does, and the only way to achieve that is to buckle down and put his all into the game. He has already earned the coaches’ respect with his work habits, so the next step is simply showing he can perform consistently in games.
In Friday night’s preseason opener, Lawson had one tackle but was disruptive in his limited playing time. Giving Lawson more opportunities to showcase his talents on the field is exactly what Bengals coaches are looking forward to in the remaining preseason games. He is, without a doubt, one of the most compelling players on the roster and already looks like a player with the potential to contribute at a high level for a long time.
Seeing how a top prospect for the future like Lawson performs in different situations allows the coaching staff to see where he is, what limitations he still needs work on, and how he handles the pressure.
"We don't want to get to that last pre-season game and we've only see them against guys that are going to get cut," Guenther said.
Then again, the Bengals don’t want to overload Lawson with too much all at once. It’s one thing to throw him in against the starters to see how he performs, but it’s another to expect him to be a master of all techniques right away.
"We pretty much play it simple in these games," Guenther said. "We're looking to see that his alignments are correct and he understands where to line up and his responsibilities. And, like all the young guys, we don't want them to throw technique out the window just because they're playing live football for the first time."
The sheer potential Lawson brings to the table is undeniable. The Bengals brought him in because, at one time (in high school), he was seen as the best pass rushing prospect in the country. Injuries slowed his development at the college level, but he is still the same determined, driven, and naturally talented player he has always been.
Seeing the progress Lawson has had this offseason has been nothing short of encouraging, especially considering how much help the Bengals need at linebacker, with Vontaze Burfict being the only returning starter from last season. The Bengals are facing the back end of some big changes on defense this year. So, a solid, smooth transition for the young linebacker will go a long way toward ensuring a sense of cohesion and security for the unit. Regardless, the progress from Lawson this offseason has been inspiring and signals the possibility of a prosperous career.