New York Jets: Can Shaq Lawson slip to 20th overall?

Dec 31, 2015; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Clemson Tigers defensive end Shaq Lawson (90) as he made a sack against the Oklahoma Sooners in the first quarter of the 2015 CFP Semifinal at the Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 31, 2015; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Clemson Tigers defensive end Shaq Lawson (90) as he made a sack against the Oklahoma Sooners in the first quarter of the 2015 CFP Semifinal at the Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

The New York Jets might get a huge opportunity presented to them if outside linebacker Shaq Lawson somehow, someway is still available at No. 20 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.

The Jets hold the 20th pick in this year’s draft with minimal holes to fill on the roster. They have every position shored up besides quarterback where Ryan Fitzpatrick still remains the top priority and outside linebacker which will be addressed in a week.

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Lawson, Leonard Floyd, Emmanuel Ogbah and Noah Spence round out the group of top tier outside linebackers who should all go in round one. Luckily for Gang Green, a majority of the teams in need of an edge rusher are picking behind them. Let’s take a closer look at what could happen before New York’s pick.

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Sep 12, 2015; Clemson, SC, USA; Clemson Tigers defensive end Shaq Lawson (90) reacts during the second half against the Appalachian State Mountaineers at Clemson Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

It is extremely unlikely that any pass rushers go in the top 10. The position is certainly deep with talent, but the potential at the top of the board is simply off the charts. If you are picking in the top 10 in this year’s draft, you will come away with a special player who can make an impact from the get-go. A few of these outside linebackers will have good NFL careers, although they are not top-10 caliber by any means. This makes picks 11-19 quite interesting.

The Chicago Bears, New Orleans Saints, Oakland Raiders and Tennessee Titans all can use a pass rusher, however their defensive secondaries are even more suspect. The only edge rusher that has a chance of going in that slot is Floyd who’s stock is all over the place at the moment. Some mocks have him in the top 15 and some have him slipping down to the Green Bay Packers.

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It all depends on if more than one cornerback goes in the top 10.

If Jalen Ramsey is the only one to go, you will see two or maybe even three come off the board in picks 11-15.

We know the Miami Dolphins are most likely going to go cornerback or inside linebacker with the 13th pick to fix last season’s defensive disaster.

Picks 16-19 are where the Jets may run out of luck. The Detroit Lions are desperate on the offensive line, so an outside linebacker in the first round would leave them with multiple question marks. The Atlanta Falcons, Indianapolis Colts and Buffalo Bills unfortunately all have a good reason to upgrade the position.

Atlanta needs any linebacker they can get, Indianapolis has an aging Trent Cole and Robert Mathis and Buffalo would love to find a young replacement for Mario Williams. Lawson’s stock has fallen a lot since the beginning of the spring which makes Floyd the guy who has a good chance of being taken by one of the three teams. The Clemson product could go too because of the Rex Ryan connection, but the Jets can still luck out completely.

The Falcons could go Reggie Ragland like everyone expects, the Colts might patch their hole at offensive tackle and the Bills nabbing a receiver like Josh Doctson or Corey Coleman would not be a surprise. This is all very possible too because the only edge rushing prospect everyone has their eye on right now is Floyd.

So what are the Jets left with? If New York has a choice between those four guys, they are in tremendous shape. It is inevitable that either Lawson or Floyd will be off the board due to their strength and experience at the college level, but you cannot rule out the possibility that they both fall.

If teams ahead of Gang Green address their main needs and if some decide to go with the best player available approach, Lawson can fill a hole and be a big part of Todd Bowles‘ defense immediately.

He is all the Jets can ask for out of a true pass rusher. He has strong hands and a big upper body that help him pave a path to the quarterback when he comes off the edge. Lawson also has finesse moves that he uses to get inside against both the pass and run. His high motor is of course another thing any franchise would appreciate. Despite all of the good things, he does have slight baggage.

He will definitely have to work on getting in the mix on run plays up the gut. Even though he is an “edge rusher,” he would be a linebacker in Bowles’ system, not an end like he was at Clemson. As a linebacker, he cannot get stuck on the outside and allow the offensive line to push the pile. Being rock solid against the run is just as valuable as the ability to get after the quarterback in the NFL. As a first-round pick, the Jets would be wasting their time using him as a designated pass rusher.

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Nonetheless, New York is in a good spot at 20. With a chance at any of the four solid outside linebackers, general manager Mike Maccagnan can fill a need while adding a big piece to the team’s future. Lawson for the time being makes the most sense.