The Buffalo Bills select Shaq Lawson at 19, giving them a big name on defense
The Bills haven’t made the playoffs since the 1999 season, and have been desperately trying to change the culture of their team. Rex Ryan was brought in to be the face of the franchise, and he’s fully embraced the role. Changing to a 3-4 defense and with Mario Williams departing, the Bills need a run-stuffing defensive end. Lawson comes off the ball with low pad level and plenty of intensity to get after the ball carrier. He may not be the best athlete in the class, but he makes up for it with effort.
At 6-foot-4 and 260 lbs, the former Clemson Tiger will likely line up opposite Jerry Hughes in the base defense, but some believe that Lawson could be a stand up outside linebacker. However, he lacks some of the flexibility linebackers need in coverage, and doesn’t always show the best hand placement when rushing the passer. That being said, he totaled 12.5 sacks as a junior, and led the nation with 24.5 tackles for a loss. Lining up opposite fellow draftee Kevin Dodd may have opened up some opportunities for him, but Lawson definitely made the most of them.
The pick also makes sense in another way. Rex Ryan’s son Seth plays wide receiver for Clemson, giving the Ryan family plenty of looks at what he can do on the field. Either way, the Bills will have high expectations for Lawson to come in and contribute from day 1.