Once seen as a bust of a first round draft pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, Buffalo Bills defensive end Shaq Lawson has shaken off that label and is having a career year in 2019. A career year that hasn't grabbed many headlines during Buffalo's first run to an 8-3 record since 1996.
That changed this past Sunday against the Denver Broncos.
On top of two sacks, Lawson had three quarterback hits, two tackles for a loss, and two tackles against quarterback Brandon Allen and the Broncos offense.
The 25-year-old pass rusher leads the Bills in quarterback hits, is second in tackles for a loss, and second in sacks. Only one game hasn't included a quarterback hit or tackle for loss by Lawson.
The high level of play comes at a good time for Lawson, as he is set to become a free agent this offseason and will be looking for a contract extension from the Bills.
While he isn't a household name around NFL fanbases just yet, Lawson's team knows just how important he is to the success of the defense both on and off the field.
"He is one of our catalysts," head coach Sean McDermott said following practice on Monday. "Whether it's offensively or defensively, he is respected on both sides of the ball for how he brings it everyday."
Despite playing at a top school in developing NFL talent and becoming a first-round pick, Lawson plays with a chip on his shoulder that has been instrumental to the Bills' success.
Whether it was getting into scuffle with Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette last season 2018 or with McGovern on Sunday, that chip and energy will be crucial in a potential postseason run for the Bills.