By Michael Stewart/@golferbad
Introduction: With most of the focus on Quarterback Daniel Jones taking the next up and becoming an elite quarterback under the guidance of Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett and the expectations of a healthy Saquon Barkley in 2020, many Giant fans and even sports writers have over looked a player on the Giants that could take the biggest step in 2020 on the defensive side of the ball.
Dexter Lawrence was taken 17th overall in the 2019 draft and was part of the Odell Beckham Jr. trade with Cleveland. As a rookie, Lawrence finish the 2019 season playing in all 16 games and compiling a stat line of 38 total tackles, 2.5 sacks, one forced fumble and his PFF rating was top among all rookie defensive linemen; which resulted in him making the all-rookie defensive team.
During the offseason, Lawrence committed himself to trim down a bit and get a quicker first step off the ball and become a better finisher in his own words. Thus far in training camp, Lawrence looks quicker and has created havoc in one on one drills and also in live scrimmages. Lawrence wants to improve with each day and he has set his sights in 2020 to improve in each category; especially in the sack department.
Lawrence had nine quarterback pressures in 2019 and he expects to convert some of those chances into sacks in 2020 with his added quickness. Recording 5 sacks in 2020 (doubling 2019) is not a stretch and Lawrence believes with a little luck he could exceed that total slightly while still being a dominant force against the run (PFF rating 76.3).
The Giants have a solid history of dominant defensive tackles throughout their history with Rosie Grier, John Mendenhall, Keith Hamilton, Erik Howard, Jim Burt, and most recently Linval Joseph, Jonathan Hankins, and Damon Harrison. The Giants envision that Lawrence could eclipse all of the above mentioned and cement himself as one of the best at the Defensive tackle position. Of course, Lawrence still has a lot of work to do to finish on the top of this list, but if 2019 is any indication of what lies ahead; he’s off to a great start.