Daniel Jones understandably garnered most of the attention among fans during the 2019 NFL draft. With the team’s second of three first-round picks that year, the NY Giants selected Dexter Lawrence out of Clemson. Entering his second season for Big Blue, the gigantic defensive lineman might already be Big Blue’s best defensive player.
Heading into the 2019 NFL draft, few NY Giants fans felt defensive tackle was a big need. However, when the chance came to take a blue-chip prospect from a top college program, Dave Gettleman didn’t blink at pick #17.
Clemson University has built itself into a college football powerhouse since Dabo Sweeney took over as head coach in 2008. Countless first-round picks have come out of the program, especially on the defensive side of the ball. That being said, there has never been a more heralded recruit in the history of the program than Dexter Lawrence.
Lawrence was ranked nationally as the second-best high school player in 2016. He was wanted by every top college program in the country after being named the North Carolina state Player of the Year at Wake Forest High School. He started as a true freshman for the Clemson Tigers and had a historically great season in his first year of college football.
Due to injuries at Clemson, he was never able to duplicate the production of his 2016 season. Despite playing at an All-American level during his last two years of college football, he lacked the same quickness and explosion. When Dave Gettleman selected Lawrence in the middle of round one over players like Montez Sweat, he was betting on getting the Dexter Lawrence that was a greater pass-rushing threat in 2016.
Despite inconsistency as a rookie, Dexter Lawrence finished the season as the NFL’s 9th best rookie according to Pro Football Focus. He showed flashes of dominance. Among the six interior defensive linemen taken in the first round of the 2019 draft, Lawrence was the best.
Is Lawrence the best interior defensive lineman on his own team? The defensive line is certainly the strength of the Big Blue defense. Leonard Williams is the highest-paid defensive lineman and led all NFL interior lineman in QB hits last season. Dalvin Tomlinson was actually the G-Men’s highest-graded defensive player in 2019.
In my opinion, Lawrence will be the NY Giants’ most valuable defensive player in 2020. In this article, I will outline a few reasons why I believe Lawrence is the defense’s most valuable player and a star in the making.