Coach Gus Malzahn sounds prepared to lose Carl Lawson to ranks of the NFL.
Malzahn is leaving it up to Lawson to make an official announcement — timing to be determined — but the coach indicated there’s little uncertainty surrounding the defensive lineman’s situation.
“He went through Senior Day,” Malzahn said not once but twice.
Lawson also sat with the rest of the senior class during Auburn’s annual fan day before the season.
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Malzahn chose his words carefully when addressing the situation, but acknowledged the first-round draft projections for Lawson.
“At this time I’m not ready to say anything else other than Carl will tell you after the season like he said,” Malzahn said.
Lawson had a team-high nine sacks this season with 28 tackles, 12.5 for a loss, and a forced fumble. It was the first time in three years Lawson made it through a season injury free after missing the 2014 season with a torn ACL and the first half of 2015 season with a hip injury.
The Georgia native was named the team’s defensive MVP at the year-end banquet last week.
While Lawson started all 12 of Auburn’s regular season games for the first time in his career, his lengthy injury history is the only thing holding ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. back from giving the defensive end a higher grade.
“He’s still in my opinion the eighth best defensive end and been as high as four or five,” Kiper said last week. “I think he’s got a chance to be in the first round discussion. I have him more of a second round grade right now.”
Pro Football Focus and NFL Draft Scout both project Lawson as a first round pick.