2019 NFL Draft Scouting Report
Prospect: Dexter Lawrence
Ht: 6'4" Wt: 340
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Coming out of Wake Forest High School in Wake Forest, NC, Dexter Lawrence was a unanimous top-10 high school prospect amongst the leading recruiting services (ESPN.com, Rivals.com, Scout.com and 247sports.com), and more than lived up to the hype throughout his collegiate career at Clemson. As a true freshman, the defensive tackle started all 15 games for the Tigers 2016 national championship team and picked up freshman All-American, ACC defensive rookie of the year, and second team All-ACC honors along the way. During his sophomore campaign, Lawrence continued to dominate defenses despite nursing a nagging foot injury and earned 1st team All-ACC honors. As a junior, he anchored the defensive line of the 2018 national champion Tigers and was awarded 1st team All-America by the American Football Coaches Association and 1st team All-ACC.
Lawrence is a prototypical defensive anchor that disrupts offenses and makes a ton of plays that do not show up on the stat sheet. The 6'4" 350 lb lineman projects as either a 0-Technique or 1-Technique in the NFL, and shows remarkable lateral movement and explosiveness for a player of his size. When scouting Dexter Lawrence, his sheer size and raw power are what stand out the most. He is tremendously effective against the run and does a great job of plugging up gaps and commanding double teams to allow his fellow defensive linemen and linebackers to make plays in space. He frequently disengages blockers and his powerful upper body strength and long wingspan allow him to bring down ball carriers in his vicinity. Against the pass, Lawrence does an excellent job pushing the middle of the line into the quarterback's lap and shows great awareness by getting his arms up to bat down balls to affect the quarterback's vision.
While Lawrence' measurables and athleticism make him a surefire first round talent, there are several factors that may hurt his draft stock. After an extremely productive Freshman campaign, Lawrence saw his numbers dip during his sophomore and junior years. He suffered a foot injury in the spring of 2017 that limited his snap count and productivity during his sophomore year, and subsequently had surgery in the off season leading up to his junior year. In spite of the fact that Lawrence dominated opposing offensive lines on tape during his final year, he never reached the snap count and productivity he did as a freshman. A lot of this can be attributed to the fact that most games he played in during the regular season were decided in the first half, but considering he missed the 2018 post season due to a failed drug test for a banned substance used to recover from surgery will make franchises wary of how durable he will be through the rigors of a 16 week season.
Although Dexter Lawrence' ability as an elite run stuffer is unquestionable, he is not particularly versatile and may only be a fit on teams that play a certain scheme. Furthermore, Lawrence has had a significant advantage in size and strength against opposing collegiate offensive linemen and can often rely too much on his raw power rather than technique. As a result, he has not developed any highly effective pass rushing moves outside of the bull rush and can sometimes be out leveraged and neutralized against better technique and scheme. In a league trending toward pass heavy offenses, the perception of his potential to contribute as a 3-down player may ultimately determine how high he goes in this draft. He is far from a project, but the rate of the progression of his pass rushing effectiveness against bigger stronger offensive linemen in the NFL will be a point of discussions for teams considering taking him early in the first round.
As a third year junior, Dexter Lawrence is one of the most physically gifted nose tackle prospects to come out of college in the last decade. After he is drafted and his papers are signed, he will be already one of the top 10-15 heaviest players in the NFL. He is a dominant run stuffer, and his rare combination of explosiveness and maneuverability allow him to be effective during passing situations. In a loaded defensive line class, how high he ultimately ends up being picked will be based on how franchises perceive his effectiveness as a 3-down player and his durability. Nonetheless, Lawrence’ bust potential is very low and if healthy, he will be a day-1 starter wherever he winds up.
NFL player Comparison
Dontari Poe, Carolina Panthers
- Raw power
- Black hole tackler
- Great push up the middle using bull rush
- Gets hands in QBs face, swats down balls
- Excellent lateral movement and agility for his size
- Frequently commands double teams
- Prototype run stuffer
- Not very versatile during passing situations
- Durability concerns based on drop in snaps and production last two seasons at Clemson
- Sometimes relies too much on raw power rather than technique
|Scouting Video Courtesy of the ACC Network|