1. Carl Lawson, Edge, Auburn
I gave Lawson a first-round grade on my board based on his outstanding film and workout numbers.
He tested out as the draft’s second most explosive edge rusher, only finishing behind first overall pick Myles Garrett who scored a 85.2. With an explosive score of 77.5 (35 bench reps + 33” vertical + 114″ broad jump), Lawson is a powerful, compact athlete with tremendous upfield burst.
He also possesses a polished pass rush game, showing a variety of moves to beat his man and get after the quarterback. He led the SEC in 2016 in quarterback hurries with 30, and this came on top of nine sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss.
Lawson has found success against top competition and he proved with his junior campaign and impressive workout performance that he’s recovered from the ACL and hip injuries he suffered in 2014 and 2015. However, despite the recent accolades, the former Auburn defensive end remains on the board.
Well known as a respected leader on-and-off the field at Auburn, the only reasons it would seem Lawson has dropped in the draft is because some teams must have longterm concerns about his injuries. They may fear he won’t hold up playing 16 games a year.
Despite some of the medical concerns, the former first-team All-SEC defender is a disruptive enough edge player to be well worth the first pick in the fourth round. Lawson would give the Packers an outside linebacker with power and great pursuit off the edge He could rotate in as a situational pass rusher in his rookie season.