Kicking Lorenzo Carter inside could give the NY Giants a whole new look and feel at linebacker while allowing Dave Gettleman to get more creative this offseason.
2018 NY Giants third-round draft pick Lorenzo Carter has been mostly what you’d expect from a third-rounder. At his best, he’s looked like a highly-effective pass-rusher and at his worst, he’s looked like a fringe starter.
What’s interesting when you analyze Carter’s game, however, is that he’s actually done better at the things he wasn’t supposed to be any good at than many realize. The former Georgia Bulldog has shown the ability to get after the passer, racking up 8.5 sacks and 23 QB hits in two seasons.
He’s also defended 9 passes in that time and made 88 tackles, 7 of them for a loss. He’s been a very solid run defender and has looked much more capable in pass coverage than anyone could have thought when he came out. Carter has been quiet, smooth, and fluid in his hips (scout guy term alert), which allows him to stick with tight ends and runningbacks.
I’d actually hypothesize that Carter would be an even more effective pass-rusher inside, as he’s not so much a pin-your-ears back type of rusher that a 3/4 defense usually calls for. Also, just having a player you feel confident can play either spot is a huge advantage for a defensive coordinator in general.
If Joe Judge and Patrick Graham are as big on versatility as they claim to be, kicking Carter inside to pair with Ryan Connelly could be the beginnings of a very interesting linebacking core. With a couple of premium draft picks and what will be almost $80M in cap space, Big Blue could add another edge rusher or two to give the unit some new life.
Bringing back Markus Golden is certainly an option and even ‘just’ a core that consisted of Golden, Carter, Connelly, and O’Shane Ximines (all players on the team last season) could pay dividends. A legit rotational edge piece would need to be added, or another versatile linebacker like Cory Littleton could be in play.
Having five linebackers (counting Littleton) that could interchange at every position would give defensive coordinators nightmares while allowing the NY Giants to capitalize on disguise. Littleton – or another FA addition – Carter, and Connelly could play every down with Golden and Ximines staying fresh and lethal rotating on the edge, or coming in to give one of those three a breather.
The best part is, it doesn’t even involve multiple personnel moves. This type of creativity could lead to the success we’ve been waiting for out of the defense overall, and with Carter heading into the pivotal third-year of his rookie deal, it’s worth it for both sides to see if he’s actually best suited inside.
As we’ve seen with Dexter Lawrence, interior pressure is just as lethal as outside pressure. Having a well-rounded linebacking unit that the quarterback never knows where the pressure or coverage is coming from is a huge advantage.
Kicking Lorenzo Carter inside would surely help accomplish that.