Name: Rashard Lawrence
Position: Defensive tackle
Drafted/College: Round 4, Pick 131/LSU
Preseason quote: "No. 1 thing is just being coachable. Listening to the strength staff, listening to (defensive line) coach (Brentson) Buckner . . . be very smart and very strategic in everything you do . . . proper preparation is the key."
The debut: The 2020 college football national champion's NFL debut was quiet, as he received just 14 defensive snaps and did not record a tackle or pressure.
Lawrence's snap counts varied from week to week through Week 5. After then, he landed on reserve/injured because of a calf injury.
He did not get back on the field until Week 14, over two months later.
His return was much needed for the depth up front, as the defensive line was hit hard by injuries all year.
Lawrence's snaps hovered between 29-37 percent for the final four games of the season, with his first career start coming in Week 17. After his return, he registered six tackles, one for loss and one quarterback pressure.
It's difficult to judge Lawrence's progress given that his season was split into two short stints. His most disruptive game was in Week 5 against the Jets, when he had a career-high two quarterback pressures and hurries.
He, like all rookies, did not get a normal amount of reps in the offseason due to the pandemic. Year 2 may be a better tape measure of where Lawrence stands as a young lineman in the NFL.
In Week 17 against the Los Angeles Rams, the Cardinals needed to win to reach the playoffs. In the first quarter, the Rams had the ball on the Arizona 4-yard line on first down.
Lawrence and linebacker Tanner Vallejo combined for a tackle on Rams halfback Cam Akers to hold him to one yard. Eventually, L.A. had to settle for a field goal and Arizona held onto a 7-3 lead.
There were several key stops on that goal-line stand, but Lawrence helped keep the Rams out of the end zone to start it.
• 161 defensive snaps played (15 percent)
• Seven games missed
• Nine tackles, one for loss
• Three quarterback pressures
"(Lawrence) has a workman mentality," Buckner said in training camp. "When the switch goes on in football practice, you see a total different guy. That urgency goes up. He's flying to the ball, he hustles. He's one of those guys that when you hear a coach say, 'Work so hard you're about to pass out,' that's Rashard."
Lawrence did not get a lot of time to adjust to the NFL game, but he had glowing reviews from his coaches and peers in training camp for his effort and skillset.
If he keeps that "workman" stature up and improves going into next year, his impact could be a lot different in 2021, as long as he stays healthy.