Do the New York Giants have the most physical defensive lineman in the league? ESPN’s Matt Bowen said yes in his most recent story titled detailing the best NFL players at 101 different skills. Bowen highlighted a multitude of specific skill sets and ranked the best of the bunch.
When it came to the defensive line, Bowen chose the 26-year-old Giants’ nose tackle. Lawrence’s talent was always evident on film; even when his sack statistics didn’t necessarily suggest as much. However, he became one of the league's best defensive linemen in Wink Martindale’s defense under the tutelage of DL coach Andre Patterson, who had him align at nose more than in previous years.
Lawrence has 231 pressures on 2,134 pass-rushing reps with 21 sacks. He had a career-high 70 pressures in 2022, which ranked second among defensive linemen behind Chris Jones of the Kansas City Chiefs.
What makes Lawrence so unique is his massive size combined with his athletic ability that allows him to wreak havoc in the middle of offensive lines. Lawrence is 342 pounds; of the top-ten pressure earners in 2022, the heaviest was Daron Payne of Washington at 320 pounds.
There isn’t a player comparable to Dexter Lawrence in the NFL. Most 340-pound defensive linemen specialize in defending the run. Lawrence does that, but he’s also one of the best pass-rushing defensive linemen in the league, with incredible quickness and efficiency in his hands, and, of course, elite physicality at the point of attack, which was excellently highlighted by Matt Bowen:
“With a massive 6-foot-4, 342-pound frame, Lawrence uses his physicality and play strength to create havoc on the defensive front. He’s a disruptive force who has 46 tackles and 4.5 sacks this season.”
Lawrence has 59 pressures on the season and is currently Pro Football Focus’ highest-ranked defensive lineman in the league, and the third highest-ranked defensive player behind Myles Garrett (Browns) and Nick Bosa (49ers).
Let’s see if we can find any clips that substantiate Bowen’s claim that Lawernce is the most physical defensive lineman in the league; I have a hunch, we may find a few:
Dexter Lawrence put Quenton Nelson on his back with this bull-rush— Nick Falato (@nickfalato) January 2, 2023
Lawrence continued to build on an excellent season in yesterday's win over the Colts pic.twitter.com/MHPqga66MD
Dexter Lawrence throws two Packers to the side...the guy is a maniac on the field. pic.twitter.com/7DN6qp8p0Y— Nick Falato (@nickfalato) December 12, 2023
Dexter Lawrence's pressures/sacks from Week 7 pic.twitter.com/KFJLCo617J— Nick Falato (@nickfalato) October 23, 2023
Here are a couple of handfuls of tweets and clips that display Lawrence’s ridiculous strength and physicality. 97 must be the number one player that the offensive coordinators circle each week because he continues to be a nuisance for the opponent of the Giants.
Lawrence can win with a bull rush and power moves, but he also leverages his athletic ability to work the half-man and win with quick hands and an ability to promptly land the rip move, which is maximized by his low center of gravity, explosiveness, and overall power.
He has established himself as a top defensive lineman in the league through sheer power, insane agility, and exceptional technique. I’m happy to see the national media give him the credit he deserves.