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Will Giants’ Lorenzo Carter ever reach his potential?

Hoped-for step forward didn’t materialize a year ago — will it this time?

NFL: NOV 24 Giants at Bears
Lorenzo Carter rushing Mitchell Trubisky in 2019.
Photo by Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Tantalizing talent. Off the charts athleticism. Pedestrian production.

That, pretty much, sums up the story of New York Giants edge defender Lorenzo Carter.

Can new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham and linebackers coach Bret Bielema be the ones to to help Carter turn his massive tools into monstrous production?

Let’s take a closer look.

The basics

Height: 6-foot-5
Weight: 250
Age: 24
Position: Edge
Experience: 2:
Contract status: Year 3 of four-year, $4.083 million rookie contract (UFA 2022) | 2020 base salary: $851,226 | 2020 cap hit: $1,113,667

How he got here

Dave Gettleman used the 66th overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft on Carter, hoping that the modest production he had at Georgia (14.0 sacks in 48 games over four seasons) would be turned up a notch as he figured out how to use the athletic tools he possesses.

So far, that has not happened.

Carter has been OK, with 8.5 sacks and 42 pressures in two seasons. The leap from OK to outstanding the Giants hoped he would take in Year 2 of his career did not happen in 2019.

Carter, you could argue, actually regressed.

His sack total of 4.5 was a half-sack higher than his rookie total of 4.0. Yet, reality is Carter played nearly 300 more snaps in his second season (441 in 2018, 723 in 2019) to get that added half-sack. He also had only four more hurries in 2019, despite being used as a blitzer 46 more times in his second season than he was as a rookie. So, his success rate as a pass rusher wasn’t nearly as good in Year 2. Also, Carter missed eight tackles in 2019. He was not credited with a single missed tackle as a rookie.

2020 outlook

The Giants will, once again, hope for that big step forward from Carter. Maybe Graham’s defensive scheme will find new ways to utilize Carter. BBV’s Chris Pflum has often suggested Carter should be an off-ball linebacker rather than an edge. That seems unlikely with Blake Martinez, Ryan Connelly and David Mayo on the roster, as well as the Giants’ need on the outside.

I have also heard the suggestion that the Giants use Carter more like the Patriots used Jamie Collins, moving him around the defensive front to create matchup issues.

Carter my never become Chandler Jones. The Giants, though, need to unlock more production from the most athletic player they have on the defensive front seven.