With mock drafts starting to predict that Joey Bosa, Jalen Ramsey, Myles Jack, and Laremy Tunsil could all be off the board by the time the Jaguars select their 2016 first round draft pick, Jaguars fans and Jaguars radio hosts are getting quite fearful that they will miss out on the top prospects of this year's class, but they shouldn't be. There are many high quality players beyond the consensus "elite".
Two of those top notch players that are not considered to be part of the "elite" in this draft class are both defensive ends from Clemson. Shaq Lawson and Kevin Dodd played opposite defensive end positions for the most dominant defensive front in college football last season. Both recorded 12.5 sacks in 2015 as Juniors and both showed out against Alabama in the National Championship. Both are considered one year wonders, but playing behind the likes of Vic Beasley prior to 2015 certainly affected their playing time, so that's really a non issue. Both would bring an edge pass rushing presence to Jacksonville that outside of Dante Fowler Jr. does not exist.
Lawson is a true junior coming off his best season in college. His on field performance was truly dominant in 2015. He matched up with some of the best left tackles in all of football, including Ronnie Stanlely, a projected top 10 pick. Lawson was able to create pressure against Stanley for much of the game. He didn't record a sack in the game, but he did beat Stanley several times including a play where he beat a double team from Stanley and the left guard before being tackled to the ground by both of them. Had they not held Lawson, he certainly would have recorded a sack. Then in the 2015 National Championship Lawson had perhaps the best, if not the gutsiest, performance of his entire college career, recording 2 sacks despite being injured. These two performances against top competition helped cement Lawson as one of the best edge rushers in this years class. After the season Lawson performed very well at the combine, weighing in at 269 lbs and standing 6'3'' he was able to excel in the 40 yard dash, running a 4.7, and the 20 yard shuttle. The 40 yard dash isn't super important when it comes to defensive ends, but the 20 yard shuttle is, as it shows a players quickness. Lawson will likely become an impact player in his first year no matter what team decides to draft him.
Early in Dodd's career at Clemson he suffered a major injury that set him back, so he was much less of a known commodity going into the 2015 season compared to his counterpart Lawson. That changed quickly as the 6'5'', 270 lb. defensive end wreaked havoc on nearly every right tackle he lined up against in 2015. In addition to his 12.5 sacks, he also recorded 24 tackles for a loss. Perhaps more impressive than his sack total is the fact that he was able record at least 1 sack in each of his last five games, including 3 in the National Championship. Dodd burst on to the scene and earned his place as a top pass rushing prospect in 2015. Dodd, like Lawson, will likely become a force to be reckoned with sooner rather than later in the NFL.
So what separates these two juggernaut pass rushers? Well, not much, however Lawson would be more of a fit for the Jaguars at five than would Dodd. The Jaguars need a LEO, more commonly known as an edge rusher, as they already have ample interior pass rushers. Lawson displays a quickness that is rarely seen for a man his size and his film shows several different pass rush moves including a spin move and double move. When was the last time you saw a Jaguars pass rusher display an effective spin? Lawson is also most effective against offensive tackles, which is what the Jaguars need from an ideal LEO, where as Dodd did much of his work against guards. Dodd would be a good addition to the Jaguars, but he doesn't have the athleticism or developed pass rush that Lawson does, which makes Lawson a much more attractive prospect for the Jags. Neither player is perfect, but they would both make solid additions to the Jaguars defensive front.
So, if the so called "elite" players are gone when the Jaguars select at five, do not fret, Shaq Lawson will be there and if the Jaguars decide to trade back into the early teens, they will be able to choose from the likes of Kevin Dodd and several other pass rushing options including Leonard Floyd and Noah Spence.
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