Carl Lawson showed incredible potential as a pass rusher in his rookie season, but unfortunately, his second year was cut short. As Lawson recovers from his ACL injury, he is also preparing to take the next step in his career. 2019 could be his breakout season.
Hometown: Alpharetta, GA
Experience: 3rd year
Lawson has two years remaining on his rookie contract. He stands to make $645,000 in 2019 and $735,000 in 2020.
After missing all of 2014 and much of 2015 with injuries, Lawson shined in his final season at Auburn notching 9.5 sacks for the season. Largely due to his injury history, Lawson fell to the Bengals in the 4th round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
During his rookie season Lawson had 8.5 sacks, which was second only to Geno Atkins among Bengals’ defenders.
Last season, there were understandably high expectations. Lawson had been extremely productive despite a limited role in 2017. In 2018, fans hoped he would be cemented as a starter.
This was not the case. Marvin Lewis stated in the offseason, that he believed that less was more with Lawson.
Lawson’s one and only sack of the season didn’t come until Week 4. Stats can be deceiving, and this one is no exception. Despite having only a single sack, Lawson was getting to the quarterback. Per Pro Football Focus in addition to 1 sack Lawson had 17 hurries and seven hits on the quarterback in 175 pass rush snaps through Week 7. This gave him 25 total pressures, which was just four short of Von Miller at the time, despite Miller taking over 200 pass rush snaps in that period.
Unfortunately, that is where 2018 ended with an ACL tear for Lawson. His high number of pressures was bound to turn into more sacks with time, but he did not make it far enough into the season for that to come into fruition.
Lawson has experience rehabbing an ACL injury and will be ready to go for Week 1 of the 2019 season. In fact, Lawson has looked great in training camp, almost as though he never suffered the ACL injury.
With all the talk about how the new offensive staff will use the Bengals young players, the young defensive players have been forgotten. Lawson was extremely productive in his first 23 games, despite a limited work load.
New defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo is a defensive backs coach by trade, and the best friend of any defensive backs coach is a great pass rusher. Anarumo will have a plan for using Lawson and getting the most out of his talents.
Once Lawson is back in the flow of things and not worrying about the knee, he could see a much greater workload.
A healthy Lawson could easily have 10 or more sacks in 2019.
Lawson will definitely make the roster. The only thing that could potentially keep him off of the field is injury.
Roster Odds: 100%