Carl Lawson Has Been ‘Tremendous All The Way Through’ For Bengals

When it comes to division rivals, short of actually losing to them, there is pretty much nothing worse than when they get a player that you wanted for your own team, and for some fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Cincinnati Bengals have gotten a number of such players over the course of the past few years.

One of them, for me at least, and a few others, was Carl Lawson, whom they managed to draft in the fourth round. It’s not exactly something that I can deny given that I mocked him to the Steelers in the second round, but, of course, the need for him was dramatically lessened when they were able to get T.J. Watt in the first round.

Regardless, however, I remain curious about his career development, and I have written about that previously already this offseason. Remember, it was considered rather curious when the Bengals drafted Lawson because he seemed to profile more as a 3-4 outside linebacker, lacking the natural frame of a 4-3 defensive end.

But Cincinnati doesn’t plan to use him as a tradition 4-3 defensive end—in fact, they seem set primarily to play him as a linebacker, at least at the start of his career, and to give him rush opportunities off the edge in obvious passing situations.

Head Coach Marvin Lewis was asked about Lawson during minicamp recently, and he said that the fourth-rounder has looked “tremendous all the way through” with regards to what he was looking to see from him at this time of year, which was “the burst, the ability, the flexibility, how they’re using their hands and their extension against blocks”.

Based on his comments, it seems that the head coach is a bit more impressed up to this point with Lawson than with Jordan Willis, whom the Bengals drafted earlier, but he also said that Willis is beginning to come around as the offseason moves forward.

A reporter asked Lewis if he worried that playing Lawson at linebacker could hinder his ability to get after the passer, to which he responded in the negative. He said that the college defensive end has been able to make a smooth transition so far in part because he already played on his feet some at Auburn.

“I don’t think right now that he has quite the frame to be an every-down defensive end in the NFL”, he said, but when a reporter followed up about if he thinks that can come with time, Lewis responded, “I don’t think he needs to”.

So all in all, the Bengals don’t seem to be concerning themselves all too much with the specifics of how and where they are going to get Lawson on the field. They drafted him to help with their defense, and with their pass rush, and he will be able to do that, they believe, wherever they end up putting him, which figures to be in multiple positions.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • Rob H

    The Bengals are a strange and dysfunctional group in general, and it all flows down from the top.
    Brown cares more about getting bargains more than he does anything else.
    He was able to get Harrison on a cheap FA deal, and didn’t care that he was a terrible fit for their defense. He got pacman on a cheap deal, and didn’t care about his many issues. Burfict and Mixon were first round talents that he was able to get with bargain picks, that lead directly to bragin contracts for their talent level. Lawson was one of my early choices for the Steelers first round pick (along with Rivers), as he was slotted as a late first to early second rounder. To Brown, whether or not he fits was not a concern, he just leaves it to Marvin to try and make all his square pegs fit into the round holes.

  • Sam Clonch

    A lame duck head coach sitting on the hot seat wants people to believe that he pulled a diamond out of the rough with a day 3 pick? Shocking.

  • RickM

    For sure when one guy is singled out like this he’s impressed them. And using the word “tremendous” is elevated from the normal ‘he’s looked good’. It’s amazing that he dropped to the 4th round and certainly you guys rated him much higher. We won’t know whether the early impressions were right for a while. Still, I’d rather not hear the suggestion he could be a good one.


    Lawson and Andrew Billings…….
    Two players I wanted us to draft, especially given that both fell so far in the draft.
    I trust our draft team on the Steelers more than myself but sure hope they were right on these two!!!

  • Donte Williams

    well grave digger thus far has proved to have been the better choice he played last year and grown Billings hasn’t and is coming of injury.


    No way to deny any of what you said and my comment is not an indictment of Hargrave (or TJ Watt for that matter).
    Just think that Billings and Lawson will be a PITA for us in the near future.

  • StrengthOfVictory

    The Steelers don’t get into that playing keep-away nonsense. Leave that to the Ravens, Bengals, and Browns. The Steelers are concerned with taking the players that will make them better and fill significant needs. A corner and a long-term backup to Bell in the third (after taking Watt) were bigger needs to fill (despite how much longer fans believe Connor would have lasted).

    Lawson would have been a luxury pick with no definitive role beyond special teams, playing backup, and MAYBE rotating into the occasional snaps. And honestly, I would hate to see the Steelers making selections while (seemingly) looking sideways to other AFC North teams.

  • srdan

    Unless they put out nobody, those players will be a PITA. Billings vs Atkins, Lawson vs Burfict

    I would exaclty say they are stepping their game up. Time will tell.

  • RickM

    Lawson may end up better than Watt. It’s impossible to know right now. Matthew had him in the 2nd round and for a while Alex had him as our best selection at 32 until the late drift to Watt. I would have loved if they had double-dipped with him on the 3rd-round compensatory pick and had given us two shots to finally nail the ROLB position. It’s far more important that we establish that position as opposed to drafting a back-up RB way early. Lawson would also lessen the worry about Watt’s knees.

  • Dshoff

    If we are really planning on drafting another qb next year or the next to replace Ben, then WHY did we draft Dobbs? We should have picked Lawson in the 3rd and a TE in the 4th.

  • Ike Evans

    Hes gonna be a stud…hopefully tj is too

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    I remember when Marvin Lewis made similar comments about Darqueze Dennard during his first pre season.

  • LucasY59

    I didnt want the Steelers to take Lawson in the 1st, but any rd after that I wouldve been fine with (same with Willis) and I dont like that the ratbirds got Bowser (and Williams, but of the 4 guys Tim was one I didnt want on the Steelers, even if he was a later pick…only Steeler pick I might swap him for is the LS or Adams, but I think Adams might end up being good)

  • Dan

    Let’s be honest: Who doesn’t say that their rookies are looking good at this point? We do the same thing over here. Let’s see if he stays healthy or overcomes that “tweener” label.

  • Rocksolid20

    And don’t forget , injuries do happen . He could have
    moved into a starting roll .

  • Gautama Om

    As a 1st rounder, as many had him there, I called him a bust before the draft.

    He’ll be ,at best, an average OLB in this League.