Nevin Lawson has had a ton of playing experience at Utah State. After appearing in 9 games as a freshman, Lawson took a starting corner job for the next 39 games. His senior year was his best by far in terms of causing turnovers and getting to the ball carrier. Lawson was able to help them get to the Mountain West Championship Game and though they lost that game, they went out with a bowl victory over Northern Illinois.
For the NFL, Lawson has a workable skillset because he is such a terrific athlete that excels in pure man coverage. He really does a nice job when it comes to mirroring and finds his way to get to a lot of passes. Lawson does need to get better and more consistent in run defense and do less grabbing on receivers in the NFL. Nevertheless, Lawson projects as a day three prospect for a team in need of a tough corner who can play in the slot.
Vitals & Build
Lawson measured 5’9” 190lbs at the scouting combine with 31 ½” arms. He has a strong build with a good amount of strength particularly in his upper body. Lawson has tremendous hips and overall fluidity as well as feet and body control. His speed is good but he makes it look better because he is so quick and able to correct himself so easily. Lawson can keep getting stronger in his lower body but for the most part, his overall physical potential is somewhat limited.
Lawson is a pretty good tackler when he has opportunities. He wraps up pretty consistently and latches on until the ball carrier goes to the ground. Lawson has good functional strength, so he has a decent amount of pop when he can put his body into it and drives his feet. He makes the vast majority of the tackles he has the opportunity to make.
Lawson is a willing run defender for the most part and will try to get downhill and get involved in the play. The problem for Lawson is that he tends to too easily shoved out of the play and allows himself to get shielded off too easily. He does not sift through trash all that well and he is not involved in as many plays as he probably should be.
Most of this stems from him not being all that comfortable going at blockers and instead trying to find his way around them. The more confident he gets in that part of his game, the better he will be able to perform overall.
Lawson is impressive in terms of his ability to stay on defenders, mirror and run with opponents. He is impressive with being able to process information and react quickly. As a result, Lawson has been good when it comes to sticking with opponents and running with them down the field or reacting to quick moves.
Lawson can react well and get involved in a lot of plays. The issue that has been an issue for Lawson is not being sure where the ball is and grabbing the receiver as a result, drawing penalties for pass interference. When he is able to track the ball, he can make a play on it and potentially deflect or intercept it.
The other problem that can present a problem for Lawson is his lack of height. He will do his best to compete for the ball, but he can be simply outsized by people who can go up and get the ball and he is forced to try to rake it out on their way down with the ball.
Lawson has a good amount of skill in man, but just needs to work to eliminate some of the grabbing that could lead to penalties at the next level.
Lawson has shown he has decent ball skills. He finds his way to a lot of passes and deflects his fair share. Lawson has made some impressive interception but also dropped a few he should have caught. In fairness to Lawson, he is almost always reacting last second to try to catch the ball, which makes it more difficult.
Lawson is best served to play in a pure man scheme. His best bet is going to be to make a team as a nickel or dime because of his lack of height and his potentially physical style of play he can bring to that area of the field. While he could certainly end up playing on the outside, his lack of height will always be a problem and always work against him, so he will have to constantly prove he can hold up against bigger receivers.
Lawson has a great deal in common with Leon McFadden of the Cleveland Browns. McFadden was a third round pick out of San Diego State and like Lawson, was short and tough. McFadden had injuries that hurt him in his rookie season before being able to get on the field later in the year.
Nevin Lawson has the athleticism and ability to mirror well enough to be a corner in the NFL. He needs to get better as a run defender and avoid penalties down the field, but he is able to make plays on the football and stick to opponents in man coverage. Lawson warrants a day three pick and could have an early impact on a team in need of a slot corner.
Some of the film used in this scouting breakdown was provided by the good folks at draftbreakdown.com