Though Dexter Lawrence is being talked about as a mid-to-late-first-round selection in April’s NFL Draft, Clemson’s former defensive tackle is not satisfied with that grade.
“I feel like I am better than that,” he said prior to Saturday’s autograph session at The Fan Zone in North Charleston. “It is up to me to prove that. I just have to prove myself. That has kind of been my motto all of my life.”
Lawrence will try to prove how better he is at the NFL Scouting Combine when he arrives in Indianapolis, Ind., on Feb. 27. He, along with former Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell, has spent the last month in Pensacola, Fla., training for the combine.
“This is different than college was,” Lawrence said. “This is specific combine training. I am enjoying it a lot.”
The All-American says there are a lot of things scouts want him to work on, “but for me, it is showing them that I can move, that I am fast, and I can jump. Just all the intangibles that you need.”
But don’t get him wrong, Lawrence doesn’t feel any pressure as he heads into the combine.
“I know my abilities,” he said. “I know what I am capable of. I have played on big stages and I have had a lot of eyes on me. I think I will handle it pretty well.”
One of the myths Lawrence and the others are trying to overcome is the notion Clemson defensive linemen, more times than not, fail to live up to expectations in the NFL.
“Coming out of Clemson, they say a lot of Clemson guys quit, but we are not those kinds of guys,” Lawrence said. “That has been our mindset since we got there. To go out there and prove (we don’t quit) and just show our love for the game.”
As he continues to go through the process of the combine, and next the draft, Lawrence leans on one of his old mentors—former Clemson defensive tackle Carlos Watkins—to talk him through things, especially when he has certain questions or concerns.
Watkins experienced the combine following the 2016 season and now plays for the Houston Texans.
“I talk to him here and there. If I have a question that comes into my head, he is up to talk to me about it,” Lawrence said. “He gives me little bits and pieces of what I should be ready for.”
The good news for Lawrence is he is not experiencing the draft process alone. His friends on the defensive line, Ferrell, Austin Bryant, Albert Huggins and Christian Wilkins are all going through it with him.
“This is something that we have talked about for a long time, and now that we have been able to live the reality, it is a dream come true,” Lawrence said.
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