Do the New York Giants need to draft another defensive tackle highly? That is a question they need to ask themselves heading in to the 2019 NFL Draft. Given the incredible depth of the front seven class, and the defensive tackle class in particular, they might not be able to avoid drafting one if they stick to a pure “best player available” model.
As it stands, the Giants have B.J. Hill and Dalvin Tomlinson locked in as starters for 2019, but the Giants have a history of not extending their second round picks, and Tomlinson is entering the third year of his rookie contract. If the team doesn’t plan on extending Tomlinson after the 2020 season, perhaps they could look Dexter Lawrence out of Clemson.
Lawrence was a key piece in the middle of the defensive front which lead Clemson to the National Championship. It is entirely possible that he will be the highest rated player on the Giants board for one of their picks.
- Big and massively powerful defensive tackle.
- Capable of playing multiple alignments in multiple fronts.
- Carries his weight very well and is surprisingly athletic for a 340 pound man.
- Uses hands well to deal with cut blocks.
- Immovable when he sinks his hips.
- Collapses pockets when playing behind his pads.
- Good effort in pursuit.
- Not twitchy enough to be a consistent pass rush threat.
- Can be pushed around by offensive linemen if his hips and pad level rises.
- Needs to improve his hand usage and become more consistent.
What They’re Saying
Lawrence’s play strength, size and processing skills make him an ideal fit as a 4-3 shade or nose tackle in a 3-4 alignment. While he plays with a hot motor and outstanding effort throughout each rep, Lawrence doesn’t have the juice, flexibility or hand technique to be a consistent pass rusher in the NFL. He is capable of pushing the pocket and does well to get his hands in throwing lanes. Lawrence should be an early starter, providing strong contributions on early downs and a consistent winner at the point of attack. He can help a defense become more stout.
- Joe Marino (The Draft Network - Scouting Report)
Does He Fit The Giants?
Every defensive scheme needs a good nose tackle, so yes, Lawrence fits in their defense. However, he could be so much more than just a nose tackle.
While many will look at his 6-foot-4, 340-pound frame and picture him clogging running lanes and holding up guard/center double-teams, he is also capable of lining up as a 3-technique or 5-technique depending on down, distance, and subpackages. Lawrence did not get a chance to perform a full combine workout after straining a quad running a 5.05 second 40-yard dash, but that and his game tape is enough to prove his athleticism.
When he plays with good leverage and hand usage, Lawrence can be an immovable object or an irresistible force. There are few offensive linemen who can stand up to Lawrence’s bull rush when he is able to get his hands inside their shoulders and under their pads. That being said, when he does let his pad level rise, he can be bent back and pushed around.
Lawrence does have some upside as a pass rusher, but it is dependent on his power. His hands aren’t terribly fast, and (understandably) his lateral agility isn’t fantastic, which can limit him in short areas. Of course, for a player his size, we shouldn’t expect mobility like a 290- or 300-pound player. His versatility could make for an interesting rotation with B.J. Hill and Dalvin Tomlinson if the Giants do decide to select him.