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Cowboys 2016 Prospect Profile: Clemson Defensive End Shaq Lawson

The Cowboys held their 30 national visits earlier this month, let's take a deep dive on one of the prospects.

Tyler Smith/Getty Images

This series will examine all draft prospects that have official invites to Valley Ranch. Previous research has shown these players are the most likely to be drafted by the Cowboys. For more explanation, read the opening paragraphs here.

Name: Shaq Lawson
Position: Defensive End
School: Clemson
Height: 6’ 2 5/8"
Weight: 269 LBs


Consensus First Team All-American

Lombardi Award Finalist (Nation’s Best Lineman or Linebacker)

Hendricks Award Finalist (Nation’s Best Defensive End)

Nagurski Award Finalist (Nation’s Best Defensive Player)


Second Team Freshman All-American - and Phil Steele

Athletic Profile

pSparq Score: 130.5 Z-Score: 0.8 NFL Percentile: 79.3

pSparq is an approximation of the "Sparq Score" metric invented by NIKE (with the help of former USC and current Seattle Seahawks Head Coach, Pete Carroll), designed as a way to standardize athletic testing of High School athletes and interpret their athleticism with a sport specific formula. By standardizing a single metric composed of multiple athletic test results, it becomes possible to compare players to the athletic testing scores of players in past draft classes, and to provide context as to how a player will compare athletically to his peers at the NFL level. The Z-Score represents the number of standard deviations (sigma) above or below the mean at a particular position that player falls, 84% of players will have a Z-score of less than 1, 98% will have a Z-score of less than 2, and 99.87% will fall below a Z-Score of 3. There are currently a total of four players who are "3 Sigma Athletes" in the NFL, JJ Watt, Byron Jones, Evan Mathis, and Lane Johnson. For more on pSparq,(and the man behind the math Zach Whitman) check out

Measurables vs others at his position:

Note: This spider graph provides a visual representation of a players’ measurable traits, and combine results.  The filled in area of the chart, as well as the number in the light grey circle represents the percentile among the player’s peers by position.  A score of 85 here represents that out of every 100 players at his position, the player has a better result in that test than 85 of those 100.

Games Studied: Notre Dame, Miami, NC State, North Carolina, Florida State, Alabama,

Passing Game:

Lawson played primarily right defensive end in the Tigers four-man fronts, and was a very disruptive player from that spot. He gets off the ball well, and can capture the corner, and most often finishes the play when he has the chance. Consistently works up the field, and has active hands. Uses a dip and rip move to get the edge, and has the power against leverage to get his hips turned towards the quarterback when he’s being pushed by. Has a spin move that he loves to use as a counter to the outside rush, and it can be very effective for him when tackles over set to the outside on him.

Run Game:

Against the run Lawson plays well with his hands to get off blocks, and will chase the zone play run away from him. There are times when he doesn’t stay square at the point of attack on runs at him, probably because he is trying to work through the shoulder of the blocker. When he penetrates against the run he can be very effective splitting gaps and making plays in the back field. His length and awareness help him when he does stay square to shed blocks and get it on the tackle.

Conclusion/Cowboys Projection: Lawson is one of the players in contention for the top defensive end, or edge rusher in this draft. He could play left or right end for the Cowboys and would project as a very solid player long term. There is not as much difference between Lawson and a guy like Joey Bosa as many analysts would make you believe, but he is projected to go five to ten picks later. Lawson is one of the visitors who is likely a target should Dallas receive an offer for a trade back to the early teens.

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