While the football world waits to see what the Cleveland Browns will do with the first pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, certain experts believe they already know who’s going to be the first pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
In a recent article for Fox Sports, reporter Bruce Feldman revealed that Dexter Lawrence—a rising sophomore defensive tackle at Clemson—is already penciled in by certain scouts as the top pick two years from now. From Feldman:
Prediction from an NFL coach in Indy over the weekend: “Mark it down now: The No. 1 overall pick of the 2019 draft is gonna be [Clemson’s 6-foot-5, 340-pound defensive tackle] Dexter Lawrence. There is nothing like him in this draft in terms of size and quickness. He’s ridiculous.”
For a coach to make a prediction like that, Lawrence must be a special athlete. He is, and then some. As a true freshman last season, Lawrence had 79 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss and 7 sacks. That’s insane production from a defensive tackle. Lawrence was a Freshman All-American selection, a second-team All-ACC selection and the ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year.
But plenty of players have been able to produce at the college level from an early age. What really sets Lawrence apart is his frame and his athleticism.
At just 18 percent body fat, he’s about as lean as a 340-pound man can be. According to former Clemson linebacker Ben Boulware, Lawrence can run a 4.8 in the 40-Yard Dash. In his very first scrimmage at Clemson, he intercepted a screen pass. After Clemson’s dismantling of Ohio State during the Fiesta Bowl, All-American OSU center Pat Elflein approached Lawrence just to let him know he’s “a monster.”
Former Clemson defensive tackle Carlos Watkins told 247Sports that he’s never seen a human being like Lawrence. “He’s taught me that there are human beings like that out here,” Watkins said. “Honestly, I’ve never seen anybody like that before. He can dunk a basketball with two hands and cock it back.”
If Lawrence (who is currently 19 years old) continues to develop, there’s really no telling how high his ceiling goes. In the meantime, let’s watch him toss around high school linemen like toddlers: