Dexter Lawrence Scouting Report By Charlie Campbell
Rare size/speed combination
Heavy nose tackle
Can eat up double teams
Tough run defender
Carries weight well
Strong at the point of attack
Good get-off when fresh
Quick at the point of attack
Successful against good competition
Uses hands and feet at same time
Not easy to move at the point of attack
Ready to contribute quickly
Can play a variety of techniques in both 4-3 or 3-4
Needs more pass-rushing moves
Suspension to end collegiate career
Gets dinged up
Inconsistent; streaky player
Will need to stay on top of his conditioning
Can play too high when fatigued
Summary: During the 2016 college football season, the best defensive lineman in the nation was Alabama's Jonathan Allen, but perhaps the next-best defensive lineman was Clemson true freshman Dexter Lawrence. He was a monster for the Tigers and played a huge role in helping them to win the National Championship. Lawrence was an All-Freshman selection all over the nation plus the ACC Rookie of the Year for that season. He totaled 63 tackles with 9.5 tackles for a loss, seven sacks and a pass batted as a freshman.
As a sophomore, Lawrence's production and play dipped significantly as he played through injuries. He recorded 34 tackles with 2.5 sacks for 2017. His 2018 season showed flashes of his freshman year, but the junior was not as dynamic as 2016. Lawrence notched 37 tackles with 7.5 for a loss, 1.5 sacks and three passes broken up in 2018 while also missing some time with a suspension that caused him to sit out the college football playoff.
Given the passing-driven NFL game, an every-down defensive tackle has to have the ability to contribute in the rush to be a first-round pick, and Lawrence has enough pass-rushing talent to contribute. His seven-sack season as a freshman is not to be expected as his norm, but he has the ability push the pocket. Lawrence has tremendous power to bull rush through guards and harass the quarterback. While Lawrence may not notch a lot of sacks as a pro, he has the talent to get the quarterback to move off his landmark.
When Lawrence gets free, he shows a burst to close and can explode into the pocket. His athleticism gives him redirection skills that allow him to adjust to the quarterback. Lawrence also is a real asset for helping the other defensive linemen, as he can eat up double teams and get a push versus two blockers. The blockers Lawrence eats up makes it harder for offenses to send double teams to other linemen. Lawrence may not produce huge sack numbers in the NFL, but he definitely will contribute to the pass rush.
Lawrence is also an asset in the ground game. He is tough to move at the point of attack and has a strong anchor. He holds his ground well, and offensive linemen really struggle to get any kind of push on Lawrence. His lateral anchor is good as well. He can use his strength to shed blocks and start tackles on backs on runs up the middle. He also has the speed and athleticism to flow to the ball and get in on tackles outside of his gap. Lawrence gets into trouble if he stands up too high. Maintaining leverage and his conditioning will be points of emphasis during his pro career. Still, Lawrence should end up being a very good run defender at the next level.
For the NFL, Lawrence fits any defense. He could be a nose tackle in a 3-4 or 4-3 defense. With his length, Lawrence could play some five-technique defensive end in a 3-4 as well. In the 2019 NFL Draft, Lawrence could be a late first-round or second-round pick.
Player Comparison: Dontari Poe. Poe (6-3, 346) is a similar size to Lawrence, and both have some freaky speed with athleticism for such a big nose tackle. Like Poe, Lawrence has had some excellent years and then other seasons in which his production was really down. Poe was a first-round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, and Lawrence could be a first-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
NFL Matches: Cleveland, Buffalo, Miami, Indianapolis, Minnesota, Green Bay, Los Angeles Chargers, Kansas City
Interior disruptors are hard to find. so there should be a lot of teams hoping to land Lawrence in the early rounds of the 2019 NFL Draft. Cleveland would be a good fit for Lawrence. His speed and athleticism at three-technique would be dynamic next to Myles Garrett. The Browns are in need of an interior pass-rusher, and Lawrence would fit what they need in Gregg Williams' scheme. Cleveland is picking in the middle of the first round, so Lawrence could be in play.
In the AFC East, the Bills could use a young interior disruptor for their scheme, and Kyle Williams is nearing the end of his great career. Miami needs to replace Ndamukong Such and Lawrence could form a nice tandem with Charles Harris.
The Colts have switched to a 4-3 defense under their new coaching staff and could use a heavy tackle to go with Denico Autry. Lawrence could be a fit in Indianapolis.
Minnesota also could consider a defensive tackle because Sharrif Floyd was forced into early retirement and Sheldon Richardson was only signed to a 1-year contract. Similarly, Green Bay signed Muhammed Wilkerson to a 1-year contract. Lawrence could interest the Vikings and be in play for the Packers' second first-round pick.
The Chargers could use some youth on the inside of their defensive line, and Lawrence could be a dangerous interior pass-rusher sandwiched by Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. Staying in the AFC West, Lawrence could interest Kansas City, which needs more talent on the defensive line around Chris Jones.