As a fourth-round draft pick, expectations weren’t too high for Carl Lawson.
The Cincinnati Bengals would’ve been happy if the 6-foot-2 defensive end came up with a few key tackles and developed his skills a bit. Instead, he turned into one of the Bengals’ top pass rushers, and someone who can be an anchor on defense for years to come.
After tallying 8.5 sacks as a rookie, Lawson — a Milton high graduate — was named to the NFL’s All-Rookie team, voted on by the Pro Football Writers of America.
He led all rookies in sacks this season and also had 20 quarterback hits. What’s impressive about his sack total is he got that many while playing just 41 percent of defensive snaps this season, according to Football Outsiders.
Lawson appeared in all 16 games for the Bengals and started once. He was the only Bengal to make the PFWA All-Rookie team, and was also selected to ESPN’s All-Rookie team, compiled by football analyst Mel Kiper Jr.
After graduating from Milton High, Lawson played his college football at Auburn, where he piled up 67 tackles, 14 sacks and 24 tackles-for-loss in 33 games for the Tigers.
The Bengals finished at 7-9, but won their final two games of the season.