The NY Jets desperately needed help at edge rusher and general manager Joe Douglas took a massive step toward fixing it as the Jets agreed to sign former Cincinnati Bengals draft pick Carl Lawson earlier in the week.
The 25-year old is a perfect fit in Robert Saleh’s 4-3 base defense. This scheme requires hand-in-the-dirt edge rushers and Lawson fits right in. He played 79 percent of his 2020 snaps with his hand in the dirt.
Lawson has displayed his elite first step, ranking top five in “get-off speed” in each season since entering the league, per Next Gen Stats. He had an impressive get-off speed of 0.73 seconds this past year, ranking fourth in the league.
The Georgia native has been an effective pass-rusher since entering the league, but injuries and limited playing time have held him back.
As a rookie, Lawson recorded 8.5 sacks, but he tore his ACL in the following season. He then missed four games in 2019 due to a hamstring injury.
The NY Jets landed one of the best free agents in Carl Lawson
Per Jets X Factor’s Michael Nania, Lawson has 119 pressures over 841 career snaps, producing an elite 14.1 percent pressure rate. Lawson posted a career-high 723 snaps and played a career-best 45.2 snaps a game in 2020.
He took full advantage of his increased playing time and had an elite 2020 season despite only finishing with 5.5 sacks.
The Auburn product was able to consistently wreck havoc in the opponent’s backfield. Lawson had 64 total pressures in 2020 which ranked fourth among edge defenders. Lawson also ranked second in the league with 32 quarterback hits, only trailing T.J. Watt’s 41.
The former fourth-round pick plays the majority of his snaps on the right side, which means he will be lining up next to Quinnen Williams. This should cause far fewer double teams on Williams, allowing him to have more one-on-one matchups.
At only 25-year old Lawson is just entering his prime. He ranked second among all unrestricted free agents this offseason with four pressures per game.
All things seem to be trending up for Lawson who finally cashes in and will have the opportunity to put up elite numbers in New York.
It took the Jets more than a decade to finally add a legitimate pass-rusher, but they found their guy.