With the No. 19 overall pick in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft, the Buffalo Bills have selected Shaq Lawson, a defensive end from Clemson.
It’s no secret that the Bills needed to bolster a pass rush that not only was a massive letdown in 2015, but was arguably the league’s worst in that phase. It’s also no secret that Bills head coach Rex Ryan has close ties to the Clemson program. Which is why Lawson has, for months, been mentioned as a Round 1 possibility for Buffalo. Now, that possibility has come to pass, and Lawson will be asked to contribute heavily to the turnaround of what recently was one of the team’s strong suits.
There was some thought this week that Lawson wouldn’t even be around when the Bills picked in Round 1, owing to the value placed upon his position, and the high-quality nature of his CV. Lawson is a 6’3", 269-pound defensive end with excellent athletic traits for a player his size (4.7 seconds in the 40-yard dash with a 1.63-second 10-yard split, as well as a 33-inch vertical jump and a 10-foot broad jump). He’s also versatile, with enough length and quicks to slide inside over the guard on obvious passing downs, and enough short-area quicks to acquit himself well in coverage when asked to handle short drops.
Most importantly, Lawson is coming off of a fantastic 2015 season, his first as a full-time starter, in which he recorded 35 solo tackles, 24.5 tackles for loss, and 12.5 sacks. Ryan and the Bills will count on his ability to slide into the spot vacated by the since-released Mario Williams and continue to produce for a defense that desperately needs a boost in the pass-rushing department. Lawson is a great marriage of value and need, but he will be under a lot of pressure to perform as a 22-year-old rookie this fall.
2016 Bills draft picks
|1||19||Buffalo Bills||Shaq Lawson||DE||Clemson|