New York media got its first up-close look at Dexter Lawrence on Friday. The New York Giants’ 17th overall pick is a monstrous, well-spoken, confident young man. That much was easy to figure out.
To learn more about Lawrence, we recently turned to SB Nation’s Clemson website, Shakin The Southland. Colby Lanham answered our ‘5 questions’ about the new Giants’ defensive tackle.
Ed: Is the impression that Lawrence is a two-down run stuffer correct? Or, is he more than that?
Colby: Lawrence’s strength is definitely against the run as opposed to rushing the passer. He totaled 11 sacks and 43 quarterback pressures through his three-career at Clemson, and I don’t think he’ll ever be a big double-digit sack numbers guy. He affects the game in other ways. Namely, his ability to bull rush takes away a quarterback’s ability to step up in the pocket while providing interior pressure. He has good foot and lateral quickness, and his strength overwhelmed guards and centers who dealt with him one-on-one. He also has the strength and power to split the double teams he often commanded. Because Clemson often rotated its line frequently and had a wealth of talent around him, Lawrence was never really featured as a pass rusher. However, it doesn’t mean he loses any value on third down, especially because he can shrink the pocket.
Ed: As much talent as there was on the Clemson front, I had one evaluator tell me that it was really Lawrence who made it go, who made the guys around him better. Would you agree with that?
Colby: Yes and No. Yes, in that his size often made him command double teams, which effectively left guys like Clelin Ferrell, Austin Bryant, and Christian Wilkins (all of whom excelled in rushing the passer) in more one-on-one matchups. But, by the same token, Clemson’s front was so deep they managed to excel without Lawrence during the CFB playoff. So I wouldn’t say it was really Lawrence who made it all go from that standpoint, but he was no doubt an important factor. In fact, for most of 2017 Lawrence played at less than optimal strength due to a foot injury and Clemson remained one of the best defensive lines that season.
Ed: The common wisdom is it takes three years to assess a draft. So, three years from now Dexter Lawrence will be ... what?
Colby: A dependable run-stuffing defensive tackle with Pro Bowl potential. In a conference with physical offensive lines from teams Philadelphia and Dallas, Lawrence’s ability to command double teams and push the pocket will be a major asset for improving the Giants’ defense.
Ed: Is there anything about Lawrence off the field or personality-wise that Giants fans should know?
Colby: A very high-character guy that is going to do whatever is asked of him. He’s often a bit more understated when compared to his Clemson teammates, but he does everything the right way. Even when he was suspended for the drugs detected, Lawrence did not avoid the media when given the chance, nor has he shied away from addressing them. He faces whatever comes his way head-on. That’s the kind of player and person he is.
Ed: Do you have any favorite plays or moments from his career at Clemson that you would like to share?
Colby: Definitely the touchdown he scored against Louisville last year in Clemson’s goal-line package. If the Giants need a heavy goal-line set, Lawrence knows how to run one.