Hometown: Caledon, Ont.
Statistics: 32 Games, 78.5 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, 10 sacks
In the world of drafting, it’s easy to get distracted by flash and upside. Scouts stake their reputations on making accurate projections and connecting on big swings. That means that sometimes consistency and technical proficiency can be underrated and overlooked.
No prospect in the 2020 CFL Draft fits that description better than Cam Lawson.
The Queen’s University defensive tackle lacks elite athleticism, but he has always played his role to textbook perfection.
“I’m pretty good at the fundamentals in terms of hand placement, leverage, and using my strength to my advantage,” says Lawson. “Playing nose tackle my whole career, you kind of had to learn the technique fast or you’d get put into the ground.”
Standing at six-foot-three and 285 pounds, Lawson was built to play along the defensive line but it didn’t start out that way. As a kid, the future All-Canadian was a burgeoning soccer player before he fell out of love with the game. In many ways, he feels it was the secret to his early football success.
“That helped me a lot transitioning into football. I’m really good at footwork drills and stuff like that, moving my feet around.” Lawson says.
Though he may still be able to bend it like Beckham, gridiron football was Lawson’s sporting future. In high school, he spent time at tight end and middle linebacker before finding his permanent home in the trenches. Once he signed with the Golden Gaels, the big man quickly realized how much work he had to do to get to where he wanted to be.
“When I came in first year, I was super strong and had the strength to keep up with the guys on the team but I was slow and not very athletic. Coming off the ball, I didn’t look great,” Lawson says.
“After that first year, I slimmed down and took the time to work on the athleticism and the speed aspect of the game.”
While he’ll never be mistaken for Aaron Donald, Lawson has gotten more athletic as the years progressed. It’s not lost on him that his athleticism will be his biggest hurdle to achieving CFL success.
“With Canadian football being a pass-heavy game, you really need that [athleticism] all four quarters to be able to pass rush,” Lawson says. “I know moving into being a pro, that is the most important thing I have to work on — becoming more athletic and becoming more of a speed and finesse player.”
That’s part of the reason Lawson has slimmed down to his current 285 pounds, something which should reassure CFL scouts who consider excessive weight in the interior a red flag.
“I’ve kind of been experimenting with it my whole career at Queen’s. With East-West [Bowl], I wanted to see if playing at a heavier weight would benefit me so I went up to 294,” Lawson says. “When I got there, I felt like I was most comfortable and played my best at 285, plus or minus two pounds.”
Much like his rugged, no-nonsense play style, Lawson applies a consistent, technical and even-keeled approach to his CFL dreams.
“What makes me different is my drive. I never really get down on myself if I’m not doing something right. I tend to just put my head down and continue to work and move over whatever obstacle is in front of me,” he explains.
“My goal if I get drafted is to make a roster spot in my first year. Obviously, I still have a lot of work to do. I definitely won’t be the best player on the team. There will be a lot of things I’ll have to discover and figure out what to do to get better. I want to make a roster and then another and another until eventually I become a starter and move on to become an all-star.”
While his character and passion are indisputable, Lawson knows he’ll have a battle on his hands to achieve his lofty goals. That’s a chance he relishes.
“I love being the underdog. I love not always being the best player on the team and I love having to work for that. I’m really excited to play against some top competition and get better and see where I can take my career.”
Anonymous quote from a CFL scout: “Lawson has sneaky upside and there is no doubt about his toughness. He’s nasty while going to work along the interior of the defensive line.”
Projected round: 2-3