Former Auburn defensive lineman Carl Lawson doesn’t think he’ll have to wait very long to hear his name called in this year’s NFL Draft.
While the defender’s resume is a little light for a four-year college player, he expects to go on the first night of the three-day event.
“Oh yeah, easily,” Lawson said at Auburn’s pro day. “If you followed me throughout my career, I watch film all the time and watch NFL film. I’m a guy who could consistently win one-on-ones on the edge, so I definitely feel like I’m a first-round talent.”
After a promising true freshman campaign, injuries put Lawson on the shelf for almost two years. He missed the entire 2014 season with a torn ACL then cracked his hip during the 2015 season-opener against Louisville.
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Lawson rushed to get back into the lineup — he missed six games — but later admitted he wasn’t 100 percent until a few weeks into the offseason.
The Georgia native didn’t have any issues staying on the field in the fall leading Auburn with nine sacks and 13.5 tackles for a loss.
Lawson improved his draft stock last week with a standout performance at the combine in Indianapolis. He was invited to the event alongside former teammates Rudy Ford and Montravius Adams.
While Ford and Adams both ran the 40-yard dash at Auburn’s pro day, Lawson relied on the measurables he put up at the combine. Lawson did participate in a series of position workouts for scouts in attendance.
Lawson’s decision wasn’t all that surprising considering he ran an impressive 4.67 40-yard dash at the combine. He was also the top performer at his position in the 20-yard shuttle (4.19 seconds) and tied for the most overall reps at the 225-pound bench press (35).
“I felt like I checked off a lot of boxes,” Lawson said Friday. “I was No. 1 in two drills, ran a pretty good 40. Certain teams had different times on me, but most important thing for me was making sure they knew I had really fast 10-yard split, which is pretty much the most important part for rushing the passer.”
Lawson hopes the performance at the combine and Auburn’s pro day convince scouts he’s capable of playing outside linebacker for teams running a 3-4 scheme, a role he’s ready to embrace.
“It’s only a challenge when I need to just learn it, and whatever team—whether it be a 4-3 or a 3-4 team, I’m going to try to learn whatever they teach me,” Lawson said. “The main thing today I was just trying to prove athletically is that I’m more than qualified to do it.”
One NFL coach who appears confident in Lawson’s abilities is Mike Tomlin. Lawson talked with the Pittsburgh Steelers coach on Friday along with a pair of the team’s scouts. Lawson, who met with the Steelers at the combine, shared a few laughs with Tomlin at Auburn’s athletic facility.
The Steelers have the 30th pick in the first round.
“I was trying to tell him that I could drop (into coverage), and he was like, ‘nah, I need you to rush the passer.’ I was like, OK, that’s what I do best,” Lawson said.
Lawson’s next step is returning to Boca Raton where he’ll spend the next two months training to be ready once his name is called on April 27.
“The main thing right now is I want to have some visits and get my body ready for the NFL, get myself in football shape because a lot of these things lately have been for combine drills, and that’s not football,” Lawson said. “That’s not football at all. I want to work on everything, just work on everything to get ready for whatever team that needs to draft me.”