With all the attention on New York Giants rookie EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, one underrated player still has yet to reach his potential. 342-pound defensive tackle, Dexter Lawrence, has been trying to find his groove in the NFL since being drafted back in 2019 out of Clemson.
It is not often you find players of his size capable of churning ground. The past few seasons have been inconsistent for Lawrence, to say the least. In fact, some they argue his rookie campaign was the best of his career up to this point, tallying 25 tackles and 3.0 sacks.
He enjoyed his most snaps ever in 2021 — 759. However, he only managed 40 tackles and 3.0 sacks, including 31 quarterback hurries, which was a career-high. As a tackler, he missed 5.7% of his attempts, a career-worst.
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The New York Giants defense is about to change:
However, with Wink Martindale taking over the defensive coordinator position, the scheme is set to shift significantly. Lawrence is used to the “bend don’t break” approach, which is what Patrick Graham deployed during his tenure with Big Blue. Martindale is a blitz-heavy and blitz-often coach, which will give Lawrence a bit more versatility and freedom as a pass rusher.
“We just have so many guys that can play every position pretty much, and that’s exciting,” Lawrence said, via the Giants’ official website. “You’re not just categorizing us as one thing. I can be playing linebacker, or I can be playing end. Anything really.”
Lawrence has already noticed a sizable difference in Martindale’s system compared to Graham’s. Simulated pressures during practice are only the start of what is to come.
“Just the amount of pressure, simulated pressures. You know, people running wide open if you were watching practice, it’s kind of hard to pick up,” he told reporters on Tuesday.
Lawrence has been focused on stopping the run, but his capabilities as a pass rusher have never been extrapolated, given the conservative scheme. While he will be leaned on heavily to plug the interior gaps, expect him to have a far bigger role rushing the passer and using his immense power to shift the line of scrimmage.
If there’s any reason to believe that Dexter could have a resurgence 2022 season, it is simply because of Wink’s style and how Lawrence will be moving all over the place to take advantage of his unique build and skill set.