Prospect: Nevin Lawson, CB, Utah State
Height: 5’9 ½ “
Grade: 6.85 (Grading Scale)
Strengths: Smooth, efficient athlete with excellent balance and body control…strong instincts and route anticipation, very quick to read the receiver and react accordingly…attacks screens and edge runs, reads them quickly…effective hit-and-wrap tackler…excellent at positioning his body along the sideline and forcing receivers off their intended path…aggressive with ball in the air, had 24 PDs and 4 INTs in his final two years…decent short-area burst…proficient at jamming in the slot, something not many have experience at in college…plays fast; his 4.48 Combine 40 translates to the field…long arms (31.5”) for his height…good functional shoulder and upper body strength…created penalties adeptly; drew six in the six games I watched…plays with confidence and clearly studies film effectively, understands he needs different technique vs. different receivers…was a special teams standout
Weaknesses: Lacks height and doesn’t have the lateral quickness generally associated with smaller corners…needs to clean up his physicality, especially on the outside; guilty of a lot of illegal contact up the sidelines that isn’t called in CFB but will be in the NFL…inconsistent in zone, doesn’t play as aggressively though he generally still has good recognition…not a lot of pop behind his hits…instinctively grabs/holds when he senses he’s getting beaten…doesn’t have great hands, lets balls get into his pads (from postseason practice notes)…misses his jam more frequently than he should and allows outside release
Overall: Lawson is one of those players where his impressive work in the Shrine Game and Senior Bowl weeks sent me scrambling back to watch more. He was the best cover corner in both venues, the most natural and polished in drills.
The game tape largely reinforced this. While he’s not big, his strong body positioning and anticipation make him effective. Lawson has experience playing in all sorts of coverages, and also both in the slot and as the short-side corner.
He’s at his best playing press/man in the slot, and that’s where he can immediately contribute at the next level. His lateral quickness isn’t great, but because he’s savvy and strong he understands how to handle his business. Lawson must clean up the illegal contact and grabby hands, however; opposing teams will try to exploit his propensity for both and pick up easy flags.
If he can clean up the hands, Lawson has all the tools and ability to be an above-average slot corner that can also slide outside as the #2 if needed and hold his own. He’s a late 2nd-early 3rd rounder in my book, though he likely won’t be drafted before the 4th round.—Jeff Risdon
Utah State vs. San Jose State
–draws offensive pass interference by properly shading inside shoulder on break
–undercuts quick slant and forces Fales to improvise
–gives too much cushion outside, allows completion on comeback route but quickly wraps for the tackle
–effective jam in slot holds up the receiver a count
–poor angle choice, tries to go over the designed pick instead of under it, but it draws the (correct) OPI flag anyways
–reroutes Chandler Jones out of slot with a strong outside arm jab, sticks on his hip up the field
–stuck on block, cannot get in on the tackle
–gives a little too much room inside in zone, but closes quickly and wraps for the open field tackle to limit YAC
–good job leveraging off blocking attempt and holding outside contain, helps make the tackle
–reads Fales staring down a spot and breaks on the throw even though his receiver went elsewhere. If Fales had any accuracy at all it was a pick six, but he airmailed it
–makes the hook cut right with the outside WR, would have had a pick but ball batted at line. Did I mention that David Fales is awful yet?
–initially juked on nice jab step by Jones but quickly rights himself and recovers, sticks on his hip on corner route
–nicely anticipates the out hook, jumps the route and makes the diving INT. Once again, David Fales is awful
Utah State vs. USC
–pushes Marqise Lee out of bounds with legal hip chuck and forearm shiver to the chest before settling into shallow Cover 3 zone. This eventually forces an illegal touching penalty
–sticks on back hip of WR on deep cross, perfectly thrown ball beats him for the completion but he quickly tackles
–great job reading Lee’s body language and attacking the quick screen, knifed past a block to make a hit
–flagged for illegal hands to face as he tries to jam Lee in goal-line set. Good call
–next play he doesn’t bite on play action and carries the TE all the way to the back corner, forces throwaway
–does his assignment in attacking lead blocker on a pitch, takes him out
–shuffles around potential block and stays square to the runner, makes the tackle
–doesn’t drop deep enough in outside zone
–Lee shakes him with an explosive delay step out of slot and Lawson is a step behind when Lee drops the over-the-shoulder throw down the outside seam
–allows Lee to get outside release and gets flagged for pass interference trying to recover. Weak call but is guilty of illegal contact in NFL terms
–quickly reads and attacks the screen, drops Babbitt in his tracks near the LOS
–anticipates the goal line fade route, steers Agholor wide and breaks up the pass
–in lock step on Lee’s hip on sideline fly route, incompletion
2014 Senior Bowl week (seen in person)
Wed. North Notes–Nevin Lawson stands out as the best cornerback in this group without question. There were plays where he initiated a bit too much contact down the field, but his aggressiveness is a positive. On back to back plays he blanketed Kain Colter on a fly route and then muscled Robert Herron off a slant route by leveraging it from the inside. In 11 v. 11 at the end of practice, he even dipped under a Kain Colter block to pick up a tackle for loss on a quick screen to Josh Huff. Lawson is clearly playing with confidence on the outside.
Other games reviewed: Fresno State, Northern Illinois, Toledo ’12, Wisconsin ’12, Shrine Game week (seen in person)