Because the New York Giants finished 25th in total defense, 20th against the run and 28th against the pass last season, it’s easy to overlook the positives on that side of the ball.
Yet, NFL Network ranked defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence No. 9 on a list of Year 2 defensive linemen who are poised for a breakout campaign in 2020.
“Just like Wilkins, Lawrence’s former Clemson teammate, Lawrence wasn’t necessarily spectacular — but he was still underappreciated in 2019, logging 38 tackles and 2.5 sacks in 16 starts,” writes NFL.com senior analyst Gil Brandt. “I’m interested to see how new Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham deploys Lawrence in his system.”
Lawrence also recorded nine quarterback hits in his rookie season.
The Giants drafted Lawrence No. 17 overall in the 2019 NFL Draft. He was the fourth interior defensive lineman selected, but still managed to grade higher than Ed Oliver, Quinnen Williams and Christian Wilkins.
At 6-foot-4 and 342 pounds and just 21 years old, Lawrence has the potential to play a significant role on the Giants moving forward.
Following his rookie campaign, Lawrence earned a spot on the Pro Football Writer’s Association All-Rookie Team based on his performance and ability to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
Leonard Williams is suffering from a hamstring injury at the start of camp. But if he can get healthy, that will only further help Lawrence have a strong second season. The combination of Williams, Lawrence and Dalvin Tomlinson has the potential to be problmeatic for offenses in 2020.