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The next Giants ‘NFL Top 100’ player: How high did Dexter Lawrence soar?

The second-team All-Pro was richly rewarded for his efforts

New York Giants v Tennessee Titans
Dexter Lawrence
Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

The New York Giants’ Top 100 representatives appeared pretty cut-and-dried prior to the inception of the 2023 list. Saquon Barkley, Dexter Lawrence, and Andrew Thomas were locks; it was only a question of how high they would rank.

I whiffed on my prediction that Darren Waller would make it, but so far I nailed it with Barkley and Lawrence. I said that Barkley would be in the 30s, and indeed, he came in at No. 31. I had Lawrence in the 20s, and he was selected as the No. 28 player of 2023. Two down, one to go: I put Andrew Thomas in the teens, so we’ll see where that lands.

Lawrence amply deserves his 28th slot. The second-team All-Pro had a monster 2022 season in which he posted 7.5 sacks, 28 quarterback hits, three pass deflections, and two forced fumbles, along with top-five rankings in virtually every advanced metric at his position. He earned a four-year, $90 million extension and will anchor the middle of the Giants’ defensive line for the foreseeable future.

Fun on the field

One takeaway from the NFL+ video (subscription required) presenting Lawrence is that the big man is an excellent trash-talker. “Don’t keep looking over here! I’m still here! Don’t keep looking—I’m not going nowhere,” he chirped over at one player. To another, he quipped, “Hey, 5-6, you gonna take me out? You give me more hugs than my girlfriend gives me!” Facing the Bears’ offensive line, he hollered, “You’d better call the cavalry! You’d better call all of ‘em! You’re gonna need ‘em!” He remarked to one official, “I like to talk a little junk, Mr. Ref.”

The man they call ‘Sexy Dexy’ also has a killer sack dance, which featured prominently in the video. (Not featured was his coach mimicking it with a little less panache.) One referee asked Dex, “What was that hip shake thing?” Lawrence sees his swagger and antics as part of the fun he has on the field.

When a player is as dominant as Lawrence, they’ve earned the right to talk some smack.

What they’re saying

Buccaneers defensive tackle Akiem Hicks had high praise for the Giants defensive tackle.

My favorite young defensive lineman right now is Dexter Lawrence out of New York. What a stud. He has the dance, he plays with power, he’s leading his team as a captain. I think the future’s bright for him.

Panthers guard Austin Corbett explained, “Dexter’s just a huge body that can still move and shift and bend at a really high level.” In talking to Leonard Williams, Lawrence attributed that to his pilates.

Eagles tackle Lane Johnson weighed in, as well. “He’s obviously always been a great run stopper, but I feel like his game’s developed pass rush-wise.”

Bengals defensive tackle D.J. Reader threw in that the Giants “finally” have Lawrence in the 2i-technique (over the inside shoulder of the guard), allowing him to take advantage of his opportunities. Reader pointed out that the 2i is not a conventional interior pass-rushing spot, forcing the defensive lineman to be able to rush both inside and outside.

About the Top 100 list, Lawrence said, “I do aspire to be on there. It just shows the respect you earn around the league, which is pretty cool.” He’s earned the ultimate respect and fear that he strikes in the hearts of opponents each game. Equally importantly, he’s a key leader of the Giants’ young core.