AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn defensive end Carl Lawson has made the widely expected move official — he’s headed to the next level after a strong redshirt junior season with the Tigers.
Lawson announced his decision to leave Auburn early for the draft two days after the Tigers’ ended the 2016 season at the Sugar Bowl.
Lawson said after Auburn’s 35-19 loss to Oklahoma on Monday night that he would announce his decision on social media, and he did just that on his Twitter account Wednesday afternoon:
— carl lawson (@carllawson55) January 4, 2017
The former 5-star defensive end prospect spent four years at Auburn but only played in three. Lawson missed the entire 2014 season for Auburn with a torn ACL. He also missed several games in 2015 with a hip injury.
But Lawson played in all 13 games for Auburn as a junior and had his best season yet. He led the Tigers with 9.0 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss. Both were career-highs for Lawson.
He was named a first-team All-SEC defensive end by the league’s coaches in 2016 and a first-team All-American for the Football Writers Association of America. Lawson was also a freshman All-American in 2013.
Lawson told reporters last week he was fortunate to lean on defensive coordinator Kevin Steele and defensive line coach Rodney Garner in his decision-making process.
“They’re not coaching us just to be average college players, they are coaching us to be pros,” Lawson said. “(Steele) tells us to go about our business as being pros and have a permanent mindset. He doesn’t want to sit there and yell at you the whole time. Get your work done and take care of your body, little things like that. … Coach G has had multiple guys in the league.”
Lawson is projected anywhere from mid-first round to second-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. CBS Sports ranks him as the sixth-best defensive end prospect and the No. 26 prospect in the draft.
Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller placed Lawson as a second-round, No. 36 overall selection by the Jacksonville Jaguars in his most recent mock draft.
Lawson thanked Auburn fans last week for their support over his up-and-down career on the Plains.
“I really appreciated the Auburn family and what Auburn stood for and the integrity,” Lawson said last week. “It’s always been there, but I guess it grew the more I was able to experience it.”