The Cleveland Browns had some individual standouts on defense in 2018, but collectively the team struggled.
The Browns finished 25th against the pass (258 yards per game) and 28th against the run (135.2 yards per game) under former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and his son, Blake, who took over the defense in the second half of the season.
No. 17. Cleveland: Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson - Lawrence is primarily an early-down run-stuffer, but he has a rare combination of size and athleticism and has flashed upside in the pass-rush. His gargantuan body type is really hard to find (6’ 4”, 350 lbs.).
Lawrence certainly has the size to hold up against the run and could potentially form a formidable middle lined up next to fellow defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi.
As a member of two national title teams at Clemson, Lawrence played in 42 games, finishing with 131 tackles and 10 sacks. He may have “flashed upside in the pass-rush,” but six-and-a-half of Lawrence’s career sacks came in his freshman season.
He also may not be a natural fit for what the Browns want to do with their base 4-3 defense, as pointed out by The Draft Network:
Dexter Lawrence is an obvious fit as a true nose tackle in the NFL. His value as a run defender is tremendous and should lend itself very well to an immediate role in the NFL. That said, his ceiling will be capped by modest pass rushing skills. Look for Lawrence to be a fixture on passing downs and still generate a fair amount of rush production with his size/strength and ability to push the pocket and collapse as a bull rusher. Day one starter.
His biggest issue is his pad level. He’s a tall defensive lineman and he plays too high at times, which exposes his chest and allows inferior players to block him. As mentioned above, he’s raw in the passing game and needs to come up with a better plan.
Kind of sounds a bit like former Browns defensive tackle Danny Shelton, doesn’t it?
What do you think Browns fans? Is Lawrence’s ability in the run game enough to overcome any shortcomings as a pass rusher? Would you like to see general manager John Dorsey select Lawrence if he was available with the 17th pick?