Clemson defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence will be noticeably absent in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game against the Alabama Crimson Tide, and his collegiate career is in serious doubt.
Lawrence and teammates Braden Galloway (tight end) and Zach Giella (offensive lineman) were each suspended before the Tigers’ Cotton Bowl matchup against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish after testing positive for the banned substance ostarine. Lawrence, Galloway and Giella remain suspended heading into the game against Alabama.
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney told reporters during the week leading up to the national championship Lawrence’s presence will be missed. His size and ability would’ve been crucial against the Crimson Tide’s offensive line.
Lawrence’s NFL Draft Outlook:
Lawrence’s positive test brings up an interesting question: if his NCAA career is over, what do his professional aspirations look like following this failed test for performance-enhancing drugs? Throughout this year, many NFL Draft analysts had Lawrence pegged as a first-round selection; as the season progressed, Lawrence’s dominant efforts earned him a higher grade.
As of December, before the announcement of the failed drug test, Lawrence crept up inside the top 10 on many draft boards. ESPN’s Todd Mcshay mocked Larwence No. 5 overall to the Atlanta Falcons back in mid-December citing his immense talent as a run-plugging interior lineman, who could also collapse the pocket and rush the passer.
Players with the capabilities of Lawrence have become hot commodities in the NFL, most notable the recent standout play of Los Angeles Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald, the front-runner for the 2018 Defensive Player of the Year award after finishing the season with 19.5 sacks — most ever for an interior defensive lineman.
There is a lot of uncertainty regarding exactly where Lawrence will land three months from now when NFL teams start calling. The NFL Combine, Lawrence’s Pro Day, as well as one-on-one interviews with league executives and front office people will go a long way into how team’s evaluate the defensive tackle heading into April.
No major talking heads for NFL Network, ESPN, FOX Sports, NBC Sports, CBS Sports and Yahoo! have gone into depth on what Lawrence’s current status is among NFL circles. A lot of Lawrence’s perceived status remains speculation, though looking back on several examples such as Carlos Dunlap (2010 second-round pick), Randy Gregory (2015 second-round pick) and Laremy Tunsil (2016 first-round pick) paints a broad picture of where immensely talented players are expected to land with added question marks coming out of college.