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2019 Buffalo Bills scouting report: defensive end Shaq Lawson

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While he may not be what the team initially drafted him to be, the former first-round pick has developed into a solid rotational player

Miami Dolphins v Buffalo Bills Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Last season, the Buffalo Bills ranked 26th in the NFL in total sacks. They had 36 as a group, which was an improvement from their 2017 total of 27, but still was nowhere near where they wanted it to be. The pass rush has been a clear point of emphasis during early practices, and with good reason.

In today’s installment of our “90 players in 90 days” series, we examine one of the team’s primary pass rushers—a player drafted to be an elite pass rusher who has merely been a good role player throughout his young career. He’ll have the chance to put on a pressure show in what is now a contract year.

Name: Shaq Lawson

Number: 90

Position: DE

Height/Weight: 6’3” 267 lbs.

Age: 24 (25 on 6/17/19)

Experience/Draft: 4; selected in the first round (19 overall) of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills

College: Clemson

Acquired: Drafted in round 1 in 2016

Financial situation (per Spotrac): Lawson is in the fourth and final year of his rookie contract, a four-year pact that totals $10,278,977. The team declined the fifth-year option that comes along with contracts for first-round draft picks, which would have paid Lawson a fully-guaranteed $9.51 million in 2020. Lawson’s cap hit for 2019 is $3,270,586.

2018 Recap: Lawson had perhaps the most complete year of his career last season, as he functioned essentially as co-starter at defensive end with Trent Murphy. Lawson had four sacks on the season, good for a fourth-place tie on the team. He totaled 30 tackles, five of which went for a loss, and a career-high 12 quarterback hits. Lawson also deflected five passes and forced two fumbles in 14 games (six starts).

Positional outlook: Lawson is firmly entrenched as a top-three defensive end in the rotation. Murphy and Jerry Hughes are the other two in the top group, with Mike Love, Eddie Yarbrough, Eli Harold, and Darryl Johnson fighting for the fourth spot on the 53-man roster.

2019 Offseason: Lawson has participated in all offseason activities to date. He worked in with the second-team defense at the beginning of mandatory minicamp, starting off behind Murphy as he did last season.

2019 Season outlook: Lawson has called this season “do or die” for him, and while that may be a bit over-dramatic, it’s not too far off—while he will almost certainly have a place in the NFL next season, where that place is and how much money he will make will all be determined this year. It has to sting knowing that the Bills didn’t want to pick up his option, and hopefully that provides Lawson with some added edge and motivation throughout the season. He will be on Buffalo’s roster this year, that’s fairly certain. His future will be determined by his performance in 2019.