New York Giants: Can Dexter Lawrence be a pass rush force?

New York Giants defensive lineman, Dexter Lawrence.
May 3, 2019; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence (97) during rookie minicamp at Quest Diagnostic Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants selected interior defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence with the 17th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. He’s known for his size and ability to clog up holes in the trenches. Lawrence will most certainly be a key cog in the Giants’ run defense, but the coaches also believe he can be a pass-rushing force.

I am quite baffled at the idea of Dexter being a force in the pass-rush, simply due to his less-than-exciting statistics in the category during his college career. My logic is if he wasn’t efficient in the factor at the college level, why would he be in the NLF?

Lawrence managed 10 total sacks in three seasons for Clemson, only recording 1.5 in his final year in which the team won the National Championship. At 6’4″, 342-pounds, he’s a huge body in the middle of the defensive front, and alongside BJ Hill and Dalvin Tomlinson, Dexter should have a significant impact. However, I’m not convinced it will be as a pass-rusher.

Coming from a talented Clemson team should benefit his transition, according to head coach, Pat Shurmur:

“When you pick a guy from Clemson, he’s played on the biggest stage there is in college football,” Shurmur said. “The other thing that struck me [aside from his size] is this isn’t going to be too big for him.”

Shurmur tends to believe that the nose tackle can be a multi-faceted player that moves around the line in difference packages:

“The first thing that jumps out about Dexter is he’s a pretty big man,” Giants head coach Pat Shurmur said. “He’s a guy that can play the run and rush the passer.”

New York Giants’ first-round pick Dexter Lawrence wants to prove everyone wrong:

“I’m definitely underrated,” he said. “It’s kind of on me to prove myself, right? I’ve always been able to collapse the pocket, now I’m focused on escaping blocks or finishing the plays and things like that.”

Imagine a bigger Vince Wilfork, that’s the potential Lawrence brings to the table. He’s fast for his size and strong beyond belief. He presents a big problem for opposing offensive lines, but I’m most excited to see him battle against a renovated Giants offensive front.

It’s going to be an exciting offseason period, folks!