Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
Coming into this draft process, Lawson was a guy I liked a lot but wasn't on my dream list of picks. That list included guys like Ezekiel Elliott, Vernon Hargreaves III, Myles Jack and Jalen Ramsey. However, I am firmly convinced that none of those players will be available at 14 and if Reggie wants one of them, he will have to trade up. That's not Reggie McKenzie's style, and so none of the guys I really wanted are going to be there.
Outside of Hargreaves I don't think there are any can't-miss corner prospects at this point, and I think the Raiders can find a tackle later on as well. Lawson will be the best player available. I considered Mackensie Alexander, but I've read reports that his personality is abrasive and he can be a serious pain in the ass to deal with. The Raiders don't need that kind of distraction when their chemistry is currently so good. Lawson is the complete opposite- he's always talked about as an easy guy to like and get along with.
If you read my Pick/Pass entry on Lawson, you know that I am very high on him. He played behind Vic Beasley for his first few seasons at Clemson, and when he came in as a pass-rush specialist he was very effective. He started last season and proved that he is also great against the run. He is a mature player with a very high motor and no character issues to speak of. He is known as a coachable player who always gives it his all and is a great teammate. Lawson would fit wonderfully into the Raiders locker room and quickly become a team leader.
The 6'3", 270-lb defensive end helped Clemson to become one of the best defenses in college football the last two seasons, and he was a huge part of what they did. Lawson is extremely dependable and is a dynamic playmaker. He can sometimes wear down late in games due to his high effort level, but on the Raiders he wouldn't have to be on the field on every down because of their edge rusher rotation and hybrid defensive sets and this wouldn't be an issue as it was in college.
Lawson would line up at DE for the Raiders opposite Mario Edwards Jr., allowing Khalil Mack to stand up at OLB on the other side of Bruce Irvin. Denico Autry is a good asset for the Raiders, but is best suited as part of a rotation rather than as a starting defensive end. Lawson can line up as a 4-3 end or a 3-4 outside linebacker, providing the Raiders with even more versatility in their scheme and reducing wear and tear on Irvin and Mack. In the unfortunate event that Edwards continues to have health issues, Lawson can step right into his spot and the Raiders will be no worse off than last year. The Raiders really suffered without an adequate replacement for Edwards after his neck injury last season.
Justin Tuck was a huge part of the Raiders team until his abrupt retirement. Shaq Lawson reminds me an awful lot of a young Justin Tuck, who was a terror on a stout New York Giants line for years before coming to the Bay. I believe the Raiders can find a 3-tech defensive tackle later in the draft, but they won't find an end the caliber of Lawson anywhere outside of Joey Bosa or Deforest Buckner, both of whom will be long gone before the Raiders pick. With Lawson and Edwards on a line in front of Khalil Mack, Bruce Irvin and eventuallyAldon Smith, the Raiders will have the very best front seven in football- and as Justin Tuck could tell you, the Giants won two Super Bowls this way.