Nevin Lawson, CB, Utah State (HT: 5’9½”; WT: 190 lbs)
Fourth Round: 133rd Pick
NFL Comparison: Justin Rogers, CB, Buffalo Bills
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- Speedy cornerback who ran a solid 4.48 40-yard dash at the NFL combine. NFL teams look for smaller-stature cornerbacks to possess good distance speed if the height isn’t ideal, and Lawson isn’t a speed liability.
- He has a lot of experience in different coverages. His burn percentage of 28 percent is only average, but he performed the best in off-man coverage, which is likely his best role in the NFL.
- Spent time as a nickelback and a boundary cornerback, increasing his versatility and value. As a boundary corner, he can play in off-man or Cover 2 zone. In the slot, expect to see him press.
- Closing burst is good when defending comebacks and curls. This gives him opportunities to defense passes or intercept the ball when he jumps routes.
- Pretty smooth athlete with good flexibility. He’s able to line up in press-man, flip his hips cleanly and stay with his receiver in most situations.
- Mirrors the receiver very well at the line of scrimmage, showing good foot-speed and route anticipation.
- His arm measurement of 31.25’’ is great for his size, and he lines up with most slot cornerbacks in the NFL. At the very least, he should be able to provide good depth as a rookie.
- Has a lot of room for improvement with NFL coaching. With technique refinement, he could make big leaps during his first few offseasons in the NFL.
- Very durable while at Utah State, missing only one game in his final three seasons of being a starter.
- His length is still a concern for a boundary cornerback, as he cannot overcome being a step behind receivers if the pass is on target.
- Although he isn’t too short to play on the outside, he will need to improve his technique greatly to become a viable NFL starter. He currently doesn’t jam the receiver with consistency while in press coverage, letting his man get into his route without disruption.
- Footwork is poor when defending comebacks and curls, often rounding off his route and losing the ability to jump the route. This is mostly coaching and can improve.
- Takes false steps at the line of scrimmage when mirroring the receiver at times. He needs a smoother backpedal. Again, this is coachable and can be fixed.
- Doesn’t locate the ball well in coverage. He focuses on the receiver too much and will react when his man starts to go for the ball. He needs to look back at the ball, and then play the ball after it is released. For this reason, off-man coverage is easier for him to limit losing at the point of contest.
- Lacks strength to battle top wide receivers. His game vs. Fresno State’s Davante Adams and Senior Bowl participant Jordan Matthews led to physical mismatches throughout the game. He gets pushed around on routes too often.
- Couldn’t recover against USC star receiver Marqise Lee, who has elite quickness in space. Lawson will face similar athletes in the NFL, so he will have to become much more efficient with footwork to compensate for lack of elite quickness.
- First-team All-MWC in 2013
- Second-team All-MWC in 2012
- Three-year starter at cornerback
- Graduating with a degree in interdisciplinary studies
- Former 2-star recruit from Lauderhill, Florida
Lawson possesses a lot of the physical abilities needed to become a dependable NFL defender, but he needs a lot of refinement to get there. He needs to win at the line of scrimmage more consistently and keep playing with his eyes on the quarterback.
The tools are there for him to succeed—now he has to go and maximize his talents. I expect a team to develop him for a season or two after taking him early on Day 3 of the NFL draft.
Draft Projection: 4th-5th Round