Dexter Lawrence made the Pro Football Writers’ All-Rookie Team in 2019. He started every game for the New York Giants and was the team’s third-highest graded defensive player, per Pro Football Focus.
On a videoconference with reporters on Tuesday, though, Lawrence did not sound at all thrilled with his rookie season. He set about making changes, which started with his body.
Lawrence hired a personal trainer and a chef, and set about re-sculpting his 6-foot-4, 342-pound frame.
“I didn’t really like my build last year, so this year I tried to focus on losing a little bit of weight so I can be better on the field,” Lawrence said. “I’m out there running and I feel a lot better than I did last year.
“That’s just a goal for me each year. To feel better and be better.”
The Giants’ new defensive coordinator, Patrick Graham is enthusiastic about Lawrence’s potential.
“The athleticism is there,” Graham said. “This guy is a big body who can run, who can bend his knees. The thing that stood out to me, it’s a football thing, it’s the effort. He plays with really high-level effort in terms of trying to chase plays from the backside. There’s a screen play that we showed of this guy, he’s a left side defensive tackle, he plants his foot in the ground, I think it was against Tampa Bay, runs down, misses a tackle, he gets there and he is running on top of the tackle. It went from a big gain to a shorter gain because this big man running down the field and it jumped out to me when I got through the tape. Not to take away from him as an interior pass rusher or interior run stopper. The effort he plays with, I’m very excited to see that. When those big guys are the guys leading with the effort on the field, you can feel that. You can feel when a 300-pound man is running to the ball carrier. You can feel when a 300-pound man is hitting that check down, the opponents will feel that. That’s exciting to see because I think the guys will feed off of that.”
Lawrence was listed at 342 pounds a year ago. He wouldn’t bite when asked to reveal his weight this season.
“I’m going to weigh what I weigh. I just want to feel good,” Lawrence said.
Lawrence said he felt there were times last season when he ran out of gas late in games. He said he got into better condition “really for myself, for my team.”
“They needed me in the fourth quarter,” Lawrence said. “I need to have a little more wind, need to feel better going into the fourth quarter.”
The Giants, of course, went just 4-12 in Lawrence’s rookie season.
“I wouldn’t say we lost last year. We kinda learned lessons,” Lawrence said. “That’s how I take everything, pretty much. You’ve got to find the positive in all things.”
Lawrence had 2.5 sacks and 9 quarterback hits last season. Many feel that to become a star and justify being selected 17th overall in the 2019 NFL Draft that he has to make more plays as a pass rusher.
“Honestly, watching my whole game last year I needed to work on a lot of things,” Lawrence said. “This offseason I learned a lot of things. I educated myself more on my position. I learned that from the vets, teaching me not just to focus on one thing, focus on watch your whole game, critique yourself, be a hard coach on yourself, find ways to get better.”
More fit. More knowledgeable. More focused.
Sounds good. Let’s see if it all turns into Lawrence taking a nice Year 2 leap in his NFL career.