Get-off/Burst - Would not describe him as explosive or twitched-up, but has good reaction timing to come to life as the ball is snapped. Fires out into the opposing center before he can build his house. First step is a lot better than his 2nd/3rd/4th steps. Doesn't gain a lot of ground into the backfield and doesn't project to a penetrating style of play.
Leverage - Really impressive knee bend and ability to play leveraged for a bigger defensive tackle. Power is maximized due to pad level. Can overwhelm opponents with raw strength and ability to consistently play lower than his opponent.
Hand Usage - Fires hands to opponent's chest to win initial contact on most reps against base blocks. Good arm extension to keep frame clean. Not going to be driven off-the-ball 1v1. Will get over-extended at times and pulled forward off balance. Needs to be more violent to harass blocker when he wins with his hands early, will lose advantage to late hand counters from his opponent at times. When his hands are right, has some ridiculous wins that show unstoppable physical tools.
Rush Plan/Counters - Simplistic pass rusher who opts for a bull rush at almost every turn, but doesn't have the consistent burst to make it a deadly strategy. Has managed just 3.5 sacks over the last two years (24 games) at Clemson, which the tape shows is indicative of his lack of impact in this area. Has the tools to be worth a little more as a pass rusher than most nose tackles, flashing a chop-swim and snatch-rip 1-2 times in the five games I studied in 2018 (didn't show much in 2017).
Mental Processing/Block Recognition - Can stand to improve his recognition of zone schemes to keep from being reached. Won't be able to backdoor wide zone in the NFL and make plays. Does a terrific job identifying when his guard is pulling so he can attack the back-blocking center. Keeps his depth to the LOS and won't get too deep. Disciplined defender, but needs to be more aware of down blocks that knock him off-balance momentarily.
Range - Good movement skills in space for his size, even dropping into coverage at times. Biggest issue is that he doesn't really play as a gap penetrator, which inhibits how often he made plays in space or behind the line of scrimmage. Timed 40 will be good for his size, but doesn't really indicate the fact he doesn't show great range on a regular basis on tape.
Bend/Flexibility - Needs to work to the edge of blockers more often as a pass rusher to get a better feel for his traits in this area. Plays with good lower half bend at the point-of-attack, and movement skills suggest he'll at least test adequately in the 3-cone.
Tackling - One of the bigger hitters at nose tackle that you will see. Good length allows him to rip runners down outside his frame. Makes more plays in space than you'd expect given his size. Has leveled a few quarterbacks in his time.
Competitive Toughness - Physical and hard-working in the trenches. Knows he has rare power and relishes the 1v1 exchanges. Did not notice any loafing or taking plays off. Played through a bad foot in 2017 which limited him significantly.
Athleticism/Size - Elite size and length for the position, with NFL-ready muscle distribution and a strong physique. I don't think he'll be 340, but carries it unbelievably well if he is. Extremely nimble in space and a fluid mover, should test really well in Indy.
BEST TRAIT - Power
WORST TRAIT - Pass Rush
RED FLAGS - Was suspended for the College Football Playoff by the NCAA for failing a test for an obscure performance-enhancing substance. Almost certainly the NCAA being their typical awful 'selves and not a legitimate issue with Lawrence that will impact him at the next level.
One of the top high school recruits in the country, Dexter Lawrence burst onto the scene at Clemson as a true freshman, starting 11 games and recording seven sacks. That was as statistically dominant as we would ever see him however, as Lawrence failed to show a ton of improvement over the next two seasons as a Tiger.
Physically, Lawrence's gifts are significant and he will be a solid run-stuffing presence for an NFL team's rotation at the very least. But for a player who has been billed for years as a top ten selection, shouldn't the expectations be higher? Lawrence is a good athlete for his size, but I struggle to see an impactful every down defender, and he doesn't play with the explosiveness to make a big impact behind the line of scrimmage. Everyone would love to have Lawrence on their team, but if the asking price is a top 40 pick, I'll pass.
Round Grade: 3rd