New York Giants: Just how good has Dexter Lawrence been in his rookie season?

New York Giants, Dexter Lawrence
Sep 22, 2019; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Giants defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence (97) celebrates after sacking Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (not pictured) during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants didn’t expect 17th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, Dexter Lawrence, to emerge into one of the league’s top interior lineman in his rookie season. Maybe the Giants brass did, but the perplexed look on the faces of fans didn’t exactly indicate, “happiness.”

Interior defenders aren’t “sexy” picks, but “Sexy Dexy” is rounding himself into a force on the defense and one of the best at his position. In a 3-4 defense run by James Bettcher, the Giants expect their interior defenders to rush the passer as well. Lawrence has been stellar in nearly every category. Earning 17 combined tackles, two sacks, two tackles for a loss and three QB hits, the Clemson product has contributed in many different ways.

The New York Giants have another challenge ahead:

His next challenge will be to stop speedster Kyler Murray, quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals. The No. 1 overall pick from the draft is far smaller than the average passer, making him more elusive and quick. Lawrence believes, though, that he can still catch the little guy.

“In my mind, I could chase anybody,” Lawrence told The Post. “Just let my play do the talking, and if I catch you, I catch you. If I don’t, I’m gonna get you next time.”

At 6-foot-5, 342 pounds, “Big Dex” is equivalent to a meteor plummeting through the Earth’s atmosphere. It takes at least two offensive linemen to slow him down, and that’s usually not even enough.

When it comes to being proactive and a quality football player, Lawrence seems to have figured it out:

“I just try to force myself not to be one of those just big, lazy guys,” Big Dex said. “You can’t coach effort, you can’t coach like athletic ability. If you got it, you got it. So I just take advantage of everything God has blessed me with and use it to the fullest.”

Dexter’s primary job is to plug the A-gaps and keep the opposing running game to a minimum. The forces running backs to bounce the ball outside, and since Lawrence’s counterpart B.J. Hill is also having a solid season, their run-stop grade lands them at No. 9 in the NFL.

Despite the New York Giants’ secondary being a mess and the linebacker corps thin, the men in the trenches have been impressive. General manager Dave Gettleman has done a fantastic job piecing together this unit through the draft.