No one ever questioned LSU defensive end Rashard Lawrence’s heart, effort and loyalty.
But a string of injuries that he tried to play through his entire four-year Tigers’ career may have raised enough flags with NFL teams to not draft him until Saturday’s fourth round when he was chosen No. 131 overall by Arizona on the last day of the league’s draft.
Prior to the draft, Lawrence said “Regardless of where I go in the draft it’s not going to make or break me. What is going to make or break me is what I do next, how I show a team I’m ready to play.”
If Lawrence can stay healthy, the Cardinals will look back and believe they got a steal drafting the former Monroe Neville High star.
He started 34 times in 44 career games with 120 tackles, 212 for losses and 6½ sacks. He was a three-time permanent team captain in 2017, 2018 and 2019, graduating last December with a 3.0 grade point average in sports administration.
On the Tigers’ 15-0 national championship, he started in 11 of 12 games, including the last nine games. He had 28 tackles including six for losses and 2½ sacks.
Lawrence, a second-team selection All-SEC by league coaches, was tremendous when the spotlight shined the brightest.
He had three tackles and a tackle for a 1-yard loss in 42-25 win over Clemson in the CFP national championship Game and had two tackles in the CFP semi-final win over Oklahoma putting constant pressure on OU quarterback Jalen Hurts.
Also, Lawrence helped limit the Georgia rushing attack to less than 100 yards and totaled four tackles including one tackle for loss in the SEC championship game. In the LSU’s 46-41 win at Alabama, he had four tackles and two crucial pass breakups.
He capped his 2018 junior season being named the Fiesta Bowl’s Most Valuable Defensive Player in LSU’s 40-32 win over UCF. He had five tackles, four of them for losses including two sacks.