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2022 Free Agency All-22 Analysis: DE Shaq Lawson

Another familiar face

Another day, another All-22. And another player who should be pretty familiar to fans of the Buffalo Bills. Shaq Lawson returns to the Bills following a two-year hiatus. Lawson spent that time playing for the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets. Those teams went 0-4 against the Bills so it’s understandable Lawson wants back in. Here’s what I thought of Lawson the last time I looked, so let’s check in on his work with Jersey to compare.


Play 1

Shaq Lawson is one-on-one with Dion Dawkins in what I’d consider a pretty typical play for both. The following GIFs will be more about upside than this one, so consider this the obligatory reminder that Lawson shouldn’t be expected to turn into a phenom.

Play 2

Lawson’s been playing long enough to have picked up a move or two. This play uses a rip with a huge wind up. Lawson is successful in turning Dawson Knox and gets into the backfield to make a play.

Play 3

And here’s a rip from the other side in one of Lawson’s most successful reps against Dawkins all game. This is a clear victory for the defensive end.

Play 4

Shaq Lawson is against Knox again. A little misdirection and a swim move and Lawson pressures Josh Allen, flushing him out of the pocket. Not that it stops Allen, but it’s not Lawson’s fault that Allen can pull this off. Offsetting penalties negated this play, but it’s still fun to watch.

Play 5

The two things I wanted to highlight here are Lawson’s patience/awareness on the play and his level of effort. He doesn’t make the play, but he directs the outcome to a large degree by slowing the back down and forcing a cut back.

Play 6

It’s hard to get a really good angle at how far a defensive end leans on the run and we got lucky for a good shot of Lawson as he bends around the edge.


Summary

Before he left, I was convinced that the Buffalo Bills were prepping Shaq Lawson to take over Lorenzo Alexander’s hybrid role on the defense. That...didn’t happen. What drove my thinking then is the reason I think Lawson is back. Buffalo likes players with versatility and Lawson fits that mold. He’s unlikely to take over a game, but Lawson has a broad array of tools.