Shaq Lawson is a great value for the New York Jets
Entering the preseason, New York Jets fans were feeling great about the potential of their team’s defensive line. Some even imagined a top-five unit.
Names such as Carl Lawson, Quinnen Williams, John Franklin-Myers, Sheldon Rankins, and Folorunso Fatukasi, alongside good depth pieces like Bryce Huff, Vinny Curry, Nathan Shepherd, and Ronald Blair, filled out a defensive line room poised to be the team’s best in many years.
Those dreams were shattered when Lawson ruptured his achilles tendon while practicing against the Green Bay Packers in a joint practice.
Other than Zach Wilson’s value (as a quarterback), Lawson could have been the most valuable player on the roster. Furthermore, he’s arguably the best player on the roster and was playing as such during the entire length of training camp.
The Jets then took on another blow shortly thereafter when Curry was shut down for the year due to blood clot issues that team doctors uncovered.
All bad stuff, for sure; but that’s not the end of it.
Blair – who projected to be a key piece to the Jets’ run defense – battled injuries throughout camp and landed on the practice squad to begin the year. Third-year man Kyle Phillips has yet to hit the field and will begin the season on the PUP list.
Second-year pass rusher Jabari Zuniga failed to show anything and is also on the practice squad. Huff made the roster and projects to play a big role but failed to build upon his strong first game of the preseason.
This series of blows caused fans to decline from very optimistic about the defensive ends on the roster to, at the minimum, pessimistic and begging for a move from general manager Joe Douglas at the position.
Douglas answered by trading a 2022 sixth-round pick (acquired from the 49ers for Jordan Willis and a 2022 seventh-round pick) to Houston for former first-round pick Shaq Lawson.
Lawson, 27, spent the first four years of his NFL career with the division rival Buffalo Bills. He then signed with the Miami Dolphins and played one season there before being traded to the Texans earlier this offseason.
Many viewed Lawson as a disappointment for a first-round pick throughout his first five years. While he may not have lived up to his draft status, he is still a decent-to-solid player.
The big question that remains is, “Why were the Texans so eager to trade him after trading for him just a few months ago?”
That’s a fair question, but let’s also agree that the Houston Texans are not the NFL’s most “stable” franchise at the current moment. So, perhaps their judgment should not be trusted.
Lawson will cost the Jets just over $1 million in 2021 and just over $5 million in 2022, as Houston absorbed much of his contract. This makes it very feasible to see a Lawson and Lawson duo next year if Shaq is able to prove worthy of a long-term starting role in what should be a heavy dose of reps this coming campaign.
Below is a full list of Shaq Lawson’s strengths and weaknesses that complement the above full Shaq Lawson Blewett’s Blitz breakdown (over an hour and forty-six minutes in length).
Blewett’s Blitz podcast episode
Full list of strengths and weaknesses
- Thick build
- Effective in both pass and run game
- Power in hands
- Power through contact
- Sets strong edge
- Power in trunk
- Effective bull rush
- Good rips/jerks to clear himself in the run game
- Disciplined on the backside of run/play-action plays
- Bring thump on tackles
- Hand usage in the run game to shed
- Strong anchor
- Flashes of good hand usage in pass rush, typically with “fork moves”
- Grip strength when applying to tackle radius
- Versatility to play EMOL (end man on the line of scrimmage), inside at 4i/3 tech and in 3 or 4 point stances
- Overall athleticism
- Not twitchy
- Secondary/counter pass rush moves
- Can be late to shoot hands/caught in the chest too often
- Pass rush move variety
- Can be late off the snap
- Hand placement can be high/wide during attempted bull-rushes
- Lateral mobility
- Needs more consistency in setting angles and leverage in bull-rush
- Accuracy in hands