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Carl Lawson makes ESPN’s “most underrated” team

The Bengals’ defensive end Carl Lawson was named by NFL executives one of the league’s most underrated players

Cincinnati Bengals v Oakland Raiders Photo by Robert Reiners/Getty Images

With all of the Pro Bowlers on the Bengals’ defensive line, Carl Lawson is still an important piece.

He has been dealing with injuries for most of his pro career. He even had injury problems in college, which is the reason the Bengals could wait until the fourth round of the 2017 NFL draft.

“Many coaches in the AFC North are waiting for Lawson to put it all together — and are nervous about him doing it,” Jeremy Fowler wrote.Lawson’s modest 15.1% pass rush win rate won’t exactly strike fear in opponents. But he’s been dealing with injuries for much of his career, with hamstring and knee issues in 2018-19 and knee problems coming out of Auburn.”

Lawson had 8.5 sacks in his rookie season, but has had six in the two years since. He has only logged 1,159 defensive snaps in his entire career; Carlos Dunlap averages 830 snaps a season for comparison.

If Lawson stays healthy in 2020, he would get eight sacks based on his past production. But that would be if he continues to play less than half of the team’s defensive snaps. That would put him at roughly the same production as starters Dunlap and Sam Hubbard, but with half of the snaps.

“When we watch him on film, wow, he pops,” an AFC offensive coach told Fowler. “Undersized player who’s super physical and powerful.”

Lawson’s new teammate, Mike Daniels, has been impressed since Lawson’s rookie season.

“I watched with my own two eyes him get three sacks against us in Lambeau [Field],” Daniels said in his introductory press conference with the Bengals.

If Lawson stays healthy, paired with the rest of the offensive line in Cincinnati, opposing quarterbacks are in for a rude awakening.