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Cal Lawson makes Mel Kiper’s NFL All-Rookie Team

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The Bengals got a great player in Lawson.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

You’ve heard it before, but we’ll say it again: The Cincinnati Bengals got a huge steal in Carl Lawson.

The fourth-round pick out of Auburn just finished a very productive rookie season that’s paved the way for a bright NFL future. Appearing in all 16 games (1 start) Lawson racked up 16 total tackles and 8.5 sacks, which was actually one shy of the rookie franchise record previously set by Carlos Dunlap (9.5).

That earned Lawson a spot on Mel Kiper’s All-Rookie Team for the 2017 NFL season. Lawson actually earned the nod over a guy Bengals fans were clamouring for in Round 1 of last year’s draft.

Defensive end: Carl Lawson, Cincinnati Bengals

Final Big Board rank: 52

Midseason pick: Lawson

Preseason pick: Jonathan Allen, Washington Redskins

Lawson finished the season with 8.5 sacks, 21 quarterback knockdowns and eight tackles for loss while playing in the Bengals’ defensive line rotation. He started only one game but still played a lot. The former five-star recruit is super talented, but injuries dropped him to the fourth round in the draft. Keep an eye on him as a potential 10-sack-per-season pass-rusher going forward. The Bengals got a steal. Allen played in only five games due to a foot injury.

If you recall, Jonathan Allen was thought to be a top-five talent going into last year’s draft, not to mention a player who could upgrade the Bengals’ struggling defensive line. So when Allen fell to Cincinnati at pick No. 9, it seemed like a layup to take Allen there, but the Bengals felt that he wasn’t right for them.

the Bengals ended up getting a player that made the kind of impact on the defensive line they desperately needed, but it was Lawson in Round 4 instead.