(Kamil Krzaczynski/USA TODAY Sports)

Buffalo Bills earn high marks with Shaq Lawson pick

The Bills are getting high marks for drafting Shaq Lawson.

The Buffalo Bills probably couldn't believe the amount of talented defensive players that were on the board at pick 19. Despite there being plenty of options, the team went out and find an immediate replacement for Mario Williams by selecting Clemson Tigers DE Shaq Lawson. Now that the pick is in the books, here's a look at how the Bills are being graded by multiple media outlets.

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: B-

I don't like Lawson as much as others, but it is a need for the Bills. Maybe Rex Ryan can drop him into coverage too. Right, Mario Williams?

Mike Rodak, ESPN: Thumbs up

The surprise selections of Corey Coleman and Keanu Neal helped Lawson fall to the Bills, who weren’t expected to have a shot at one of the draft’s best edge defenders. Many expected the Bills to address their front seven and they did better than expected on this one. Thumbs up.

Pro Football Focus: A-

With Mario Williams moving on, Lawson steps in as the power defensive end/outside linebacker in the Bills’ scheme. He’s strong against the run – second in the nation behind Bosa – and his +25.9 pass rush grade ranked ninth. Lawson had a breakout season after a strong showing in limited time in 2014 on a loaded Clemson defense. For the Bills, he’ll play opposite DE/OLB Jerry Hughes, adding a formidable presence off the edge to complement their stout strong interior defensive linemen, Kyle Williams and Marcel Dareus.

Sports Illustrated: B

Don't call Lawson a one-year wonder—it was tough for him to find starting time earlier in his career along Clemson's deep line. He amassed 35 solo tackles, 12.5 sacks and 24.5 tackles for loss in 2015, and he combined the edge speed to beat tackles outside with the power to move guards inside. He's not the same type of player as Mario Williams, but he may put up similar pressure numbers over time. He needs a little technique work, but where better to hone that than within a Rex Ryan defense?


Lawson is a well-rounded player who should do an adequate job of replacing Mario Williams. He’s strong enough to be a factor against the run and was productive as a pass rusher at Clemson. The Bills got good value with this pick, but the worry is he lacks the athleticism to develop into a top NFL edge rusher.

Bleacher Report: A-

When facing one offensive tackle on the edge, Lawson could win on the first step, use a shoulder dip to torque to the quarterback, or just bull-rush his blocker backward. Once that second blocker appeared, which was often, Lawson was stymied.

But Lawson won't face many double-teams with Hughes and the others to his left. He has the potential to live up to his billing and then some. After all, 12.5 sacks and 25.5 tackles for loss is an awful lot of production for a guy the whole opposing offensive line is focused on stopping.


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