Shaq Lawson Makes Perfect Sense for the Buffalo Bills
On paper, Clemson defensive end Shaq Lawson compares almost identically to New England Patriots defensive end and former second-overall draft pick Chris Long.
Check out Lawson's measurables compared to Long's entering the 2008 draft:
|Measurables||Shaq Lawson||Chris Long|
|Weight||269 lbs.||272 lbs.|
|40-Yard Dash||4.70 s||4.75 s|
|20-Yard Shuttle||4.21 s||4.21 s|
Both Lawson and Long both played in the ACC, but only Lawson was able to help his team get to a national championship game.
Whether he lined up with his hand on the ground or standing up, Lawson spent most of last season disrupting opposing offenses. He didn't miss a single game last year, despite playing through a shoulder injury that required him to return to Indianapolis for a medical re-check before the draft.
Lawson made a living getting into the backfield last season. His 12.5 sacks last season were the third-most in the FBS, and he had 24.5 total tackles for loss, using a variety of moves to get there.
One of his pass rushing strengths is his ability to use his arms to swat away opposing offensive linemen's hands and toss them out of his way.
He also has an awe-inspiring spin move that he used to get into the backfield against both the pass and the run.
Among all edge defenders, Pro Football Focus ranked him second against the run in 2015.
Headed to Buffalo
One of our signature metrics here at numberFire is Net Expected Points (NEP), which measures the value added or lost on each play relative to league-average expectation level. A 10-yard run on 3rd-and-8 should mean a lot more to a player or team's statistics than a 10-yard run on 3rd-and-20, and NEP accounts for that.
The Bills ranked dead last in the NFL last season with a 30.67 Adjusted (for strength of schedule) Defensive Rushing NEP.
Their passing defense performed much better, led by their two stud cornerbacks -- Ronald Darby and Stephon Gilmore -- who, along with Tyrann Mathieu and Patrick Peterson, were the only cornerback tandem to both finish in the top-10 of Pro Football Focus' rankings. What makes the cornerbacks' performance look even better is that they did it without the defensive line generating much pressure. After leading the league with 54 in sacks in 2014, the Bills saw a huge drop last season and finished 31st with only 21 sacks.
The Bills let go of Mario Williams this offseason after he had only five sacks last season. Jerry Hughes is locked into the right defensive end spot, but the departure of Williams leaves a great opportunity for Lawson to come in and start right away. He will add an immediate boost defending both the run and the pass.
Learning under Rex Ryan will be a great opportunity for a player that has already performed against the best competition at the college level.