The Falcons selected defensive end Vic Beasley with their #8 overall pick in last year’s draft. Beasley experienced growing pains but really showed signs of improvement at the end of the season. He started in all 16 games for a much improved Falcons defense and showed the signs that he could anchor a defensive line in the future. However, the Falcons still finished second to last in sacks and can use all the help they can get when it comes to getting after the quarterback. I think Atlanta will have the same defensive minded approach that they did last year and it all starts up front with the line.
Shaq Lawson dominated college football last year and led the Clemson Tigers to a National Championship game. He recorded 12.5 sacks and a staggering 25.5 tackles for loss. Lawson served as a backup the previous two seasons behind the likes of Vic Beasley. Even as a reserve, he was still an active part in the defense collecting 21 tackles for loss.
Lawson is a an absolute beast. He stands at 6 feet 3 inches and weighs almost 270 pounds but is very fast for his size. He finished 4th among all defensive line participants in the combine with a 4.70 40-yard dash. He also showed off quickness in the 3-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle. He is thick from the bottom up and can use his strength combined with his speed to embarrass opposing offensive lineman. There is also the connection with Vic Beasley. Lawson commented on the situation saying he would love to re-unite with his old Clemson teammate.
Dan Quinn loves guys who are fast and physical. Lawson has a unique combination of both. He would be a perfect scheme fit for the LEO linebacker position that he runs in his defense, which is basically a weak side stand up defensive end. He could play alongside his former teammate, Vic Beasley, and the two could possibly become a dynamic duo in a defense, that with Dan Quin at the helm is poised to be great in the future.
He may not be the speed-rusher that Beasley is, but the Falcons need players like Lawson. He will create problems in the backfield continuously and will be a problem against the run and the pass. Atlanta will be adding a lot of new pieces to the defensive line this offseason, and Lawson would be a great addition with their first-round pick.